What does a convolutional neural network recognize in the moon? [CL]


Many people see a human face or animals in the pattern of the maria on the moon. Although the pattern corresponds to the actual variation in composition of the lunar surface, the culture and environment of each society influence the recognition of these objects (i.e., symbols) as specific entities. In contrast, a convolutional neural network (CNN) recognizes objects from characteristic shapes in a training data set. Using CNN, this study evaluates the probabilities of the pattern of lunar maria categorized into the shape of a crab, a lion and a hare. If Mare Frigoris (a dark band on the moon) is included in the lunar image, the lion is recognized. However, in an image without Mare Frigoris, the hare has the highest probability of recognition. Thus, the recognition of objects similar to the lunar pattern depends on which part of the lunar maria is taken into account. In human recognition, before we find similarities between the lunar maria and objects such as animals, we may be persuaded in advance to see a particular image from our culture and environment and then adjust the lunar pattern to the shape of the imagined object.

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D. Shoji
Mon, 21 Aug 17

Comments: 12 pages, 6 figures

The critical binary star separation for a planetary system origin of white dwarf pollution [EPA]


The atmospheres of between one quarter and one half of observed single white dwarfs in the Milky Way contain heavy element pollution from planetary debris. The pollution observed in white dwarfs in binary star systems is, however, less clear, because companion star winds can generate a stream of matter which is accreted by the white dwarf. Here we (i) discuss the necessity or lack thereof of a major planet in order to pollute a white dwarf with orbiting minor planets in both single and binary systems, and (ii) determine the critical binary separation beyond which the accretion source is from a planetary system. We hence obtain user-friendly functions relating this distance to the masses and radii of both stars, the companion wind, and the accretion rate onto the white dwarf, for a wide variety of published accretion prescriptions. We find that for the majority of white dwarfs in known binaries, if pollution is detected, then that pollution should originate from planetary material.

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D. Veras, S. Xu and A. Rebassa-Mansergas
Mon, 21 Aug 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS

Jupiter's North Equatorial Belt expansion and thermal wave activity ahead of Juno's arrival [EPA]


The dark colors of Jupiter’s North Equatorial Belt (NEB, $7-17^\circ$N) appeared to expand northward into the neighboring zone in 2015, consistent with a 3-5 year cycle of activity in the NEB. Inversions of thermal-IR imaging from the Very Large Telescope revealed a moderate warming and reduction of aerosol opacity at the cloud tops at $17-20^\circ$N, suggesting subsidence and drying in the expanded sector. Two new thermal waves were identified during this period: (i) an upper tropospheric thermal wave (wavenumber 16-17, amplitude 2.5 K at 170 mbar) in the mid-NEB that was anti-correlated with haze reflectivity; and (ii) a stratospheric wave (wavenumber 13-14, amplitude 7.3 K at 5 mbar) at $20-30^\circ$N. Both were quasi-stationary, confined to regions of eastward zonal flow, and are morphologically similar to waves observed during previous expansion events.

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L. Fletcher, G. Orton, J. Sinclair, et. al.
Fri, 18 Aug 17

Comments: 28 pages, 15 figures, published in Geophysical Research Letters

Cycles of Activity in the Jovian Atmosphere [EPA]


Jupiter’s banded appearance may appear unchanging to the casual observer, but closer inspection reveals a dynamic, ever-changing system of belts and zones with distinct cycles of activity. Identification of these long-term cycles requires access to datasets spanning multiple jovian years, but explaining them requires multi-spectral characterization of the thermal, chemical, and aerosol changes associated with visible color variations. The Earth-based support campaign for Juno’s exploration of Jupiter has already characterized two upheaval events in the equatorial and temperate belts that are part of long-term jovian cycles, whose underlying sources could be revealed by Juno’s exploration of Jupiter’s deep atmosphere.

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L. Fletcher
Fri, 18 Aug 17

Comments: 9 pages, 1 figures, Commentary published in Geophysical Research Letters

Adaptive optics and lightcurve data of asteroids: twenty shape models and information content analysis [EPA]


We present shape models and volume estimates of twenty asteroids based on relative photometry and adaptive optics images. We discuss error estimation and the effects of myopic deconvolution on shape solutions. For further analysis of the information capacities of data sources, we also present and discuss ambiguity and uniqueness results for the reconstruction of nonconvex shapes from photometry.

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M. Viikinkoski, J. Hanus, M. Kaasalainen, et. al.
Fri, 18 Aug 17

Comments: Accepted to A&A

Searching for Faint Comoving Companions to the $α$ Centauri system in the VVV Survey Infrared Images [SSA]


The VVV survey has observed the southern disk of the Milky Way in the near infrared, covering 240 deg$^{2}$ in the $ZYJHK_S$ filters. We search the VVV Survey images in a $\sim$19 deg$^{2}$ field around $\alpha$ Centauri, the nearest stellar system to the Sun, to look for possible overlooked companions that the baseline in time of VVV would be able to uncover. The photometric depth of our search reaches $Y\sim$19.3 mag, $J\sim$19 mag, and $K_S\sim$17 mag. This search has yielded no new companions in $\alpha$ Centauri system, setting an upper mass limit for any unseen companion well into the brown dwarf/planetary mass regime. The apparent magnitude limits were turned into effective temperature limits, and the presence of companion objects with effective temperatures warmer than 325K can be ruled out using different state-of-the-art atmospheric models.
These limits were transformed into mass limits using evolutionary models, companions with masses above 11 M$_{Jup}$ were discarded, extending the constraints recently provided in the literature up to projected distances of d<7 000 AU from $\alpha$ Cen AB and $\sim$1200 AU from Proxima. In the next few years, the VVV extended survey (VVVX) will allow to extend the search and place similar limits on brown dwarfs/planetary companions to $\alpha$ Cen AB for separations up to 20 000AU.

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J. Beamin, D. Minniti, J. Pullen, et. al.
Fri, 18 Aug 17

Comments: 8 pages, 6 figures, 3 tables. Accepted for publication in MNRAS

The Unusual Apparition of Comet 252P/2000 G1 (LINEAR) and Comparison with Comet P/2016 BA14 (PanSTARRS) [EPA]


We imaged Comet 252P/2000 G1 (LINEAR) (hereafter 252P) with the Hubble Space Telescope and both 252P and P/2016 BA${14}$ (PanSTARRS) (hereafter BA${14}$) with the Discovery Channel Telescope in March and April 2016, surrounding its close encounter to Earth. The r’-band $Af\rho$ of 252P in a 0.2″-radius aperture were $16.8\pm0.3$ and $57\pm1$ cm on March 14 and April 4, respectively, and its gas production rates were: $Q$(OH) = $(5.8\pm0.1)\times10^{27}$ s$^{-1}$, and $Q$(CN) = $(1.25\pm0.01)\times10^{25}$ s$^{-1}$ on April 17. The r’-band upper limit $Af\rho$ of BA1$_{14}$ was $0.19\pm0.01$ cm in a 19.2″-radius aperture, and $Q$(CN) = $(1.4\pm0.1)10^{22}$ s$^{-1}$ on April 17, 2017. 252P shows a bright and narrow jet of a few hundred kilometers long in the sunward direction, changing its projected position angle in the sky with a periodicity consistent with 7.24 hours. However, its photometric lightcurve is consistent with a periodicity of 5.41 hours. We suggest that the nucleus of 252P is likely in a non-principal axis rotation. The nucleus radius of 252P is estimated to be about $0.3\pm0.03$ km, indicating an active fraction of 40% to >100% in its 2016 apparition. Evidence implies a possible cloud of slow-moving grains surrounding the nucleus. The activity level of 252P in the 2016 apparition increased by two orders of magnitude from its previous apparitions, making this apparition unusual. On the other hand, the activity level of BA14 appears to be at least three orders of magnitude lower than that of 252P, despite its ten times or larger surface area.

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J. Li, M. Kelley, N. Samarasinha, et. al.
Fri, 18 Aug 17

Comments: 31 pages, 15 figures, 4 tables, accepted by AJ