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On the errors and stability of reference frames

V. S. Gubanov, S. L. Kurdubov

Astronomy Letters, Volume 39, Issue 12, 866–875 (2013)

DOI: 10.1134/S1063773713120049

About the paper


The distribution of systematic errors in the coordinates of 1217 extragalactic radio sources included in the latest version of the ICRF2 (International Celestial Reference Frame) reference catalog has been mapped for the first time by processing VLBI observations from international astrometric and geodetic programs spanning the period 1980–2012. These errors are shown to reach ±1.0 mas (milliarcseconds). However, for a sample of 752 sources observed more than 100 times, these errors do not exceed ±0.2 mas, suggesting that ICRF2 is inhomogeneous. In addition, the individual stability of dozens of extragalactic radio sources and ground-based stations included in the latest version of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame, ITRF2005, has been investigated. Significant linear trends and anomalous shifts reaching ±20 µas (microarcseconds) have been detected for many of the sources. Significant systematic shifts have also been found for some of the reference stations. The results obtained stimulate a search for new methods of analyzing VLBI observations and ways of their global adjustment that would provide greater homogeneity and stability of the ICRF and ITRF. This is needed both to increase the accuracy of determining the astrometric, geodetic, and geodynamic parameters derived from these observations and to facilitate their physical interpretation. The work has been performed with the QUASAR multifunction software package developed at the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.