Buoyancy waves in Pluto's high atmosphere: Implications for stellar occultations

William B. Hubbard, D. W. McCarthy, C. A. Kulesa, S. D. Benecchi, M. J. Person, J. L. Elliot, A. A.S. Gulbis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We apply scintillation theory to stellar signal fluctuations in the high-resolution, high signal/noise, dual-wavelength data from the MMT observation of the 2007 March 18 occultation of P445.3 by Pluto. A well-defined high wavenumber cutoff in the fluctuations is consistent with viscous-thermal dissipation of buoyancy waves (internal gravity waves) in Pluto's high atmosphere, and provides strong evidence that the underlying density fluctuations are governed by the gravity-wave dispersion relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-289
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheres, dynamics
  • Occultations
  • Pluto, atmosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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