Seven-year wilkinson microwave anisotropy probe (WMAP*) observations: Planets and celestial calibration sources

J. L. Weiland, N. Odegard, R. S. Hill, E. Wollack, G. Hinshaw, M. R. Greason, N. Jarosik, L. Page, C. L. Bennett, J. Dunkley, B. Gold, M. Halpern, A. Kogut, E. Komatsu, D. Larson, M. Limon, S. S. Meyer, M. R. Nolta, K. M. Smith, D. N. SpergelG. S. Tucker, E. L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


We present WMAP seven-year observations of bright sources which are often used as calibrators at microwave frequencies. Ten objects are studied in five frequency bands (23-94 GHz): the outer planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and five fixed celestial sources (Cas A, Tau A, Cyg A, 3C274, and 3C58). The seven-year analysis of Jupiter provides temperatures which are within 1σ of the previously published WMAP five-year values, with slightly tighter constraints on variability with orbital phase (0.2% ± 0.4%), and limits (but no detections) on linear polarization. Observed temperatures for both Mars and Saturn vary significantly with viewing geometry. Scaling factors are provided which, when multiplied by the Wright Mars thermal model predictions at 350 μm, reproduce WMAP seasonally averaged observations of Mars within ∼ 2%. An empirical model is described which fits brightness variations of Saturn due to geometrical effects and can be used to predict the WMAP observations to within 3%. Seven-year mean temperatures for Uranus and Neptune are also tabulated. Uncertainties in Uranus temperatures are 3%-4% in the 41, 61, and 94 GHz bands; the smallest uncertainty for Neptune is 8% for the 94 GHz band. Intriguingly, the spectrum of Uranus appears to show a dip at ∼30 GHz of unidentified origin, although the feature is not of high statistical significance. Flux densities for the five selected fixed celestial sources are derived from the seven-year WMAP sky maps and are tabulated for Stokes I, Q, and U, along with polarization fraction and position angle. Fractional uncertainties for the Stokes I fluxes are typically 1% to 3%. Source variability over the seven-year baseline is also estimated. Significant secular decrease is seen for Cas A and Tau A: our results are consistent with a frequency-independent decrease of about 0.53% per year for Cas A and 0.22% per year for Tau A. We present WMAP polarization data with uncertainties of a few percent for Tau A. Where appropriate, WMAP results are compared against previous findings in the literature. With an absolute calibration uncertainty of 0.2%, WMAP data are a valuable asset for calibration work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: individual (Cygnus A, 3C274)
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • Planets and satellites: general
  • Radio continuum: general
  • Space vehicles: instrumentsxs


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