Friday, December 26, 2008

Saturn Orbit Anomaly

On the recently determined anomalous perihelion precession of Saturn
The astronomer E.V. Pitjeva, by analyzing with the EPM2008 ephemerides a large number of planetary observations including also two years (2004-2006) of normal points from the Cassini spacecraft, phenomenologically estimated a statistically significant non-zero correction to the usual Newtonian/Einsteinian secular precession of the longitude of the perihelion of Saturn, i.e. \Delta\dot\varpi_Sat = -0.006 +/- 0.002 arcsec/cy; the formal, statistical error is 0.0007 arcsec/cy. It can be explained neither by any of the standard classical and general relativistic dynamical effects mismodelled/unmodelled in the force models of the EPM2008 ephemerides nor by several exotic modifications of gravity recently put forth to accommodate certain cosmological/astrophysical observations without resorting to dark energy/dark matter. Both independent analyses by other teams of astronomers and further processing of larger data sets from Cassini will be helpful in clarifying the nature and the true existence of the anomalous precession of the perihelion of Saturn.

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