The 2003 November 14 occultation by Titan of TYC 1343-1865-1

A. Zalucha, Alan Fitzsimmons, J.L. Elliot, J. Thomas-Osip, H.B. Hammel, V.S. Dhillon, T.R. Marsh, F.W. Taylor, P.G.J. Irwin

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6 Citations (Scopus)


We observed a stellar occultation by Titan on 2003 November 14 from La Palma Observatory using ULTRACAM with three Sloan filters: u, g, and i (358, 487, and 758 nm, respectively). The occultation probed latitudes 2°?S and 1°?N during immersion and emersion, respectively. A prominent central flash was present in only the i filter, indicating wavelength-dependent atmospheric extinction. We inverted the light curves to obtain six lower-limit temperature profiles between 335 and 485 km (0.04 and 0.003 mb) altitude. The i profiles agreed with the temperature measured by the Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument [Fulchignoni, M., and 43 colleagues, 2005. Nature 438, 785 791] above 415 km (0.01 mb). The profiles obtained from different wavelength filters systematically diverge as altitude decreases, which implies significant extinction in the light curves. Applying an extinction model [Elliot, J.L., Young, L.A., 1992. Astron. J. 103, 991 1015] gave the altitudes of line of sight optical depth equal to unity: 396±7 and 401±20 km (u immersion and emersion); 354±7 and 387±7 km (g immersion and emersion); and 336±5 and 318±4 km (i immersion and emersion). Further analysis showed that the optical depth follows a power law in wavelength with index 1.3±0.2. We present a new method for determining temperature from scintillation spikes in the occulting body's atmosphere. Temperatures derived with this method are equal to or warmer than those measured by the Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument. Using the highly structured, three-peaked central flash, we confirmed the shape of Titan's middle atmosphere using a model originally derived for a previous Titan occultation [Hubbard, W.B., and 45 colleagues, 1993. Astron. Astrophys. 269, 541 563].
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-518
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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