Distance to neighbouring galaxy measured

Posted: March 9, 2013 in Current affairs
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IAS Preparation Online

Astronomers use the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy as a basis to estimate more remote objects in outer space and the ultimate size of the Universe.

But this technique means that any error in the initial measurement is magnified over longer distances, meaning our estimates of the position of faraway galaxies are very uncertain.

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Now researchers have made a much more accurate measurement of the space between Earth and the LMC – 163,000 light years – using observations of a rare type of “double star”.

By monitoring how the rare pairs of stars, known as eclipsing binaries, orbit one another the astronomers were able to figure out their size and mass.

Combining this information with measurements of their brightness and colour allowed the researchers to determine their distance from Earth to a high degree of accuracy.

They observed eight pairs of binary stars over an eight year period…

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