Possible systematics in the VLBI catalogs as seen from Gaia
School of Astronomy and Space Sciences, Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics (Ministry of Education), Nanjing University, 163 Xianlin Street, 210023 Nanjing, PR China
Received: 27 September 2017
Accepted: 15 November 2017
Aims. In order to investigate the systematic errors in the very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) positions of extragalactic sources (quasars) and the global differences between Gaia and VLBI catalogs, we use the first data release of Gaia (Gaia DR1) quasar positions as the reference and study the positional offsets of the second realization of the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF2) and the Goddard VLBI solution 2016a (gsf2016a) catalogs.
Methods. We select a sample of 1032 common sources among three catalogs and adopt two methods to represent the systematics: considering the differential orientation (offset) and declination bias; analyzing with the vector spherical harmonics (VSH) functions.
Results. Between two VLBI catalogs and Gaia DR1, we find that: i) the estimated orientation is consistent with the alignment accuracy of Gaia DR1 to ICRF, of ~0.1 mas, but the southern and northern hemispheres show opposite orientations; ii) the declination bias in the southern hemisphere between Gaia DR1 and ICRF2 is estimated to be +152 μas, much larger than that between Gaia DR1 and gsf2016a which is +34 μas. Between two VLBI catalogs, we find that: i) the rotation component shows that ICRF2 and gsf2016a are generally consistent within 30 μas; ii) the glide component and quadrupole component report two declination-dependent offsets: dipolar deformation of ~+50 μas along the Z-axis, and quadrupolar deformation of ~−50 μas that would induce a pattern of sin2δ.
Conclusions. The significant declination bias between Gaia DR1 and ICRF2 catalogs reported in previous studies is possibly attributed to the systematic errors of ICRF2 in the southern hemisphere. The global differences between ICRF2 and gsf2016a catalogs imply that possible, mainly declination-dependent systematics exit in the VLBI positions and need further investigations in the future Gaia data release and the next generation of ICRF.
Key words: astrometry / reference systems / catalogs
© ESO, 2017