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Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars. Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Stellar distances An accurate distance scale is a fundamental tool in Astronomy.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars. Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Stellar distances An accurate distance scale is a fundamental tool in Astronomy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars

2 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Stellar distances An accurate distance scale is a fundamental tool in Astronomy. Without accurate distances we can not determine fundamental stellar properties, for example, stellar radii, luminosities etc. But how do we measure stellar distances? Geometric Parallax (  g ) Geometric parallax (  g ) is the angular displacement of a relatively nearby object with respect to distant (assumed to be at infinity) background objects. Easiest to demonstrate by observing your thumb at arms length first with your left eye and then with your right eye. You should see your thumb displaced relative to the background objects. e.g. consider the following geometry For large distances, i.e. small parallaxes, we can use the small angle approximation, i.e. and so (  g in radians)

3 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Stellar distances : Part 1 The Earth-Sun distance 1) Solar parallax  s For the sun, the solar parallax  s is defined to be the angle subtended by the Earth’s radius at the distance of the sun Thus, if we know the Earth’s radius, we can measure the distance to the sun, by measuring the solar parallax However, the solar parallax is small (~8.8”, or the size of a small coin at ~200 hundred meters). Also during the day difficult to see background stars

4 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Relative distance Measure the angle  between Moon’s terminator and Sun, when Moon is half-illuminated. Then, Since the Sun is very distant,  is close to 90 degrees. Aristarchus measured an angle of 87 degrees, placing the Sun approx. 20 times further away than the Moon. [The correct scaling is ~390]. Error most likely associated with determining precisely when Moon is half-illuminated. 2) Aristarchus of Samos (c BC) Made the first measurement of the relative distance Earth-Moon : Earth-Sun. Though the result was inaccurate, demonstrated that the Sun was very distant compared with the moon.

5 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars 3) Alternative approach : measure the parallax to another body in the solar system, e.g. a planet, and use it’s distance and Keplers III law (P 2  a 3 ) to derive the Earth-Sun distance. 4) transit of Venus (Halley 1716) Edmund Halley in 1716 suggested that the transit of Venus could be used to provide an accurate estimate of the Earth-Sun distance. Transits occur when the planet passes between the Earth and Sun. NB. Transits of Venus are rare, because the orbit of Venus is inclined to the ecliptic (the plane of the Earth’s orbit) by degrees. As Venus passes between Earth and Sun, Venus occults (blocks) the light from the solar disc, appearing as a black “shadow”. When observed from 2 different locations on the Earth, the direction of the “shadow” is displaced due to parallax.

6 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Last Transits of Venus were 2004 and Next transit is in 2133!

7 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Stellar distances : Part 2 The stars Trigonometrical Parallax : as the Earth orbits the sun, a nearby star will appear to move relative to a set of background stars. The parallax,p, of a star is defined to be half the total angular change in direction to the star. At a distance of 1 parsec (par for parallax, sec for second), 1AU subtends 1 second of arc. d(parsecs) = 1/p(arcseconds) = 1/  ” 1 parsec = 3x10 18 cm =206,265 AU = light-years The parallax of our nearest star alpha-Centauri is 0.76”, so d(  -Cen)=1/0.76=1.3pc=4.2 light-years. The Hipparchus satellite could measure angular separations of  0.002” (i.e. distances to few thousand stars) ESA’s Gaia mission (Launched just before Xmas 2013) will measure angular separations to a few  -arc seconds (10 -6 arc seconds), i.e. distances to a billion stars….!!!

8 Dr Matt Burleigh Proper motion Because Sun and stars move through space, nearby stars slowly drift in position across the sky. This annual motion is called the proper motion (  ) and is measured in seconds of arc/yr. e.g. If star moves from B to D in 1 yr, then angular movement observed from sun at A is . Distance d, to the star at the end of year is AD. In triangle ACD, If  is small, If the annual parallax then The largest proper motion measured is that of Barnard’s star ~10.3”/yr The Sun and the Stars [1au/1yr = 150,000,000/(365x24x3600) = 4.74 km/s] measure  in arcsecs/yr d in parsecs and V trans in au/yr C

9 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Motion of Barnard’s star on celestial sphere is a combination of the proper motion of the Star and the parallax due to Earth’s motion around the Sun.

10 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars. Apparent magnitude : The apparent magnitude (symbol m) is a measure of the stars brightness as seen by an observer on Earth. Scale originally devised by Hipparchus and later Ptolemy. Historically, stars were divided into 6 categories according to their brightness : brightest 1 st magnitude, faintest 6 th magnitude. Pogson (1836) verified Herschel’s finding that a difference of 5 magnitudes is equivalent to a factor of 100 in received flux. But a difference of one magnitude is equivalent to a factor ~2.5. Q. Why? A.the eye estimates differences in brightness by a geometric rather than an arithmetic progression. Ie the eye’s brightness scale is logarithmic rather than linear. Pogson devised a logarithmic scale relating the apparent brightness of 2 stars (m 1 and m 2 ) in terms of their measured fluxes, f 1 and f 2, such that NB when m 1 > m 2, f 1 < f 2, ie brighter stars have smaller apparent magnitudes!!

11 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Distance modulus: Luminous stars can appear dim if very far away, while low-luminosity stars can appear bright if very close. In Astronomy we use the absolute magnitude (symbol M) to refer to a stars luminosity The absolute magnitude is defined to be the magnitude that would be observed if the star were placed at a distance of 10 parsec from the sun. Follows from: m and M are related by the distance modulus m – M, where

12 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Magnitude systems Because the flux of a star varies with wavelength, the star’s magnitude will depend upon both the wavelength at which we observe and the filter band-pass. Historically we have used photographic m pg (4200A) and visual magnitudes m v (5500A). The design of the filters is of paramount importance when devising photometric magnitude systems. e.g. small band-passes give more spectral information but admit less flux requiring longer exposure times

13 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Johnson – devised first photometric system using 3 filters U, B,V (Ultraviolet, Blue and Visible), centred at 3600, 4400, 5500A respectively. To calibrate the system require measurement of flux standard stars for a given instrument and filter set. Pioneering work by Alan Cousins in South Africa

14 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Colour Index The colour index CI is defined to be the difference between magnitudes at two different effective wavelengths or, more generally NB. U-B and B-V are also colour indices

15 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Hotter stars have more negative colour indices!!

16 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Extinction Measured fluxes must be corrected for 2 types of extinction (i)Atmospheric (from ground only – obviously!) (ii)Interstellar (i) Atmospheric – the attenuation due to the Earth’s atmosphere depends upon the altitude of the star. If F 0 ( ) is the stars flux above the Earths atmosphere, and  is the atmospheric optical depth, then the observed flux F( ) is simply The optical depth is a minimum at the zenith,  0 ( ), and proportional to sec Z, where Z is the zenith angle, at other elevations (see fig), that is So if we know  0 ( ) we can measure the flux outside the atmosphere

17 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars The extinction for a given night can be determined by measuring standard stars through a range of elevations (range of air masses) – derive extinction in magnitudes per unit air mass Substitute for  ( )  0 ( ) is the first order extinction coefficient (ii) Interstellar extinction – e.g. scattering by gas and/or dust A( ) difficult to determine, varies with wavelength and line of sight through ISM. Modifies distance modulus accordingly

18 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Blue photons scattered more than red, so stars are observed to have a colour excess, i.e. they will appear redder. If a star has an intrinsic colour B 0 -V 0,, and apparent B and V magnitudes andthen The stars intrinsic colour B 0 -V 0 =M B -M V The colour excess E(B-V) is defined to be Rearranging, we get Typically we find that A V  3E(B-V)

19 Dr Matt Burleigh The Sun and the Stars Bolometric Correction In general, we only sample a small fraction of the stars energy distribution. Above the Earth’s atmosphere we can define the total bolometric flux f bol,where It follows that Similarly we can define the visual flux, f v where S( ) is our sensitivity at V, and so The bolometric correction BC is defined to be the difference between the bolometric and visual magnitudes This implies


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