Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Moving Closer to the Grand Spiral

02.08.2005


VLT Enables Most Accurate Distance Measurement to Spiral Galaxy NGC 300



An international team of astronomers from Chile, Europe and North America [1] is announcing the most accurate distance yet measured to a galaxy beyond our Milky Way’s close neighbours. The distance was determined using the brightness variation of a type of stars known as "Cepheid variables".

The team used the ISAAC near-infrared camera and spectrometer on ESO’s 8.2-m VLT Antu telescope to obtain deep images in the near-infrared of three fields in the spiral galaxy NGC 300. Together these fields contain 16 long-period Cepheids. These stars had previously been discovered by the team in a wide-field imaging survey of this galaxy conducted with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera on the ESO/MPG 2.2-m telescope at La Silla.


The spiral galaxy NGC 300 is a beautiful representative of its class, a Milky-Way-like member of the prominent Sculptor group of galaxies in the southern constellation of the same name.

The astronomers derive a distance to NGC 300 of a little above 6 million light-years [2]. "The VLT data have led to accurate period-luminosity relations in the J- and K- bands, allowing us to determine the distance to NGC 300 with an unprecedented uncertainty of only three percent", says Wolfgang Gieren, of the University of Concepcion (Chile) and leader of the team. One of the reasons for this high accuracy was the opportunity to precisely combine the new near-infrared ISAAC data with the previous optical WFI data.

Cepheid variables constitute a key element in the measurement of distances in the Universe. It has been known for many years that the pulsation period of a Cepheid-type star depends on its intrinsic brightness (its "luminosity"). Thus, once its period has been measured, the astronomers can calculate its luminosity. By comparing this to the star’s apparent brightness in the sky, they can obtain the distance to the star. This fundamental method has allowed some of the most reliable measurements of distances in the Universe and has been essential for all kinds of astrophysics, from the closest stars to the remotest galaxies.

This first Cepheid distance based on near-infrared imaging with the Very Large Telescope is a milestone in the team’s Araucaria Project in which they seek to improve the local calibration of the distance scale with stellar standard candles, including Cepheid variables, by determining precisely how these standard candles depend on a galaxy’s properties, such as its content in chemical elements and age.

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2005/pr-20-05.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientific achievements during the operation of Lomonosov satellite
18.12.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms
18.12.2017 | Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>