- Determining distances is a key problem in astronomy, because unless we know how far away a star or group of stars is, it is impossible to know the size of the galaxy or understand how it formed and evolved
- The Cambridge researchers have developed a novel method to determine distances between stars by relying on stellar ‘twins’: two stars with identical spectra. The researchers found that the difference of 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.
- The technique could be a valuable complement to the Gaia satellite — which is creating a three-dimensional map of the sky over five years — and could aid in the understanding of fundamental astrophysical processes at work in the furthest reaches of our galaxy.
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