Wednesday, March 6, 2013
ScienceShot: A Better Cosmic Yardstick: Now, astronomers have used observations of eight pairs of binary stars in the distant cluster to develop a new figure. The orbits of these pairs are aligned such that one star passes in front of the other as seen from Earth, which allowed the researchers to approximate the size of each member from the durations of the eclipses. The spectra of these cool, mature stars allowed the team to determine their surface temperatures. Together, those bits of data enabled the astronomers to estimate the amount of energy emitted by the stars, and that, in conjunction with observations of their actual brightness as seen from Earth, allowed the researchers to estimate the distance to each pair.