Cambridge Science Centre

 

Cambridge scientists develop new method to measure stars

Written on 11 Sep 2015 in Blog

Astronomers at the University of Cambridge have developed a new, highly accurate way of measuring the distances between stars. The team of astronomers’ new technique uses stellar ‘twins’ – two stars with identical spectre – to determine distance, which is, by far, more accurate than the current model-dependent system.

The researchers found that the difference between the distances of the twin stars is directly related to the difference in their apparent brightness in the sky, meaning that distances can be accurately measured without having to rely on models.

It has been noted that the method could be employed to measure the size of the galaxy providing a better understanding of how it evolved. The new technique will also be used to complement the Gaia satellite, which is creating a three-dimensional map of the sky over five years.

With the development of even more powerful telescopes it may soon be possible to see stars that are beyond the reach of Gaia; therefore the researchers claim their method will be a strong complement.

The Cambridge Science Centre will shortly be announcing the winners of its COSMIC challenge that took place over the summer. The lucky winners will receive a top of the range telescope; the Centre is hoping they will be able to inspire the next generation of Cambridge astronomers!

If you are interested in finding out more about the world you live in, head down to the Cambridge Science Centre’s COSMIC exhibition for an unforgettable adventure that will take you to the moon and back.