Cosmic distances
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Cosmic Distances. How to measure distances Primary distance indicators Secondary and tertiary distance indicators Recession of galaxies Expansion of the Universe. Stellar Parallax.

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Cosmic Distances

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Cosmic distances

Cosmic Distances

  • How to measure distances

  • Primary distance indicators

  • Secondary and tertiary distance indicators

  • Recession of galaxies

  • Expansion of the Universe


Stellar parallax

Stellar Parallax

As the Earth moves from one side of the Sun to the other, a nearby star will seem to change its position relative to the distant background stars.

d = 1 / p

d = distance to nearby star in parsecs

p = parallax angle of that star in arcseconds


Stellar parallax1

Stellar Parallax

  • Most accurate parallax measurements are from the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos mission.

  • Hipparcos could measure parallax as small as 0.001 arcseconds or distances as large as 1000 pc.

  • How to find distance to objects farther than 1000 pc?


Flux and luminosity

Flux and Luminosity

  • Flux decreases as we get farther from the star – like 1/distance2

  • Mathematically, if we have two stars A and B


Standard candles

Standard Candles


Standard candles1

Standard Candles

  • Measure the distance to star A to be 200 pc.

  • Measure the flux of star A.

  • Measure the flux of star B with same spectral type and luminosity class to be lower by a factor of 1600

  • Find the distance to star B


Distances to galaxies

Distances to galaxies

Standard candles, such as Cepheid variables, the most luminous supergiants, globular clusters, H II regions, and supernovae in a galaxy, are used in estimating intergalactic distances.


The distance ladder

The Distance Ladder

  • Each stage in the ladder overlaps the previous and next

  • Cepheid distances are critical

  • Tully-Fisher, fundamental plane apply to whole galaxies

  • Supernova are now the best estimators at large distances


Cosmic distances

A Cepheid variable star is 900 times dimmer but has the same period as another Cepheid which is 100 pc away. How far is it?

  • 100 pc

  • 3000 pc

  • 90,000 pc

  • downtown


Doppler effect

Doppler effect


Doppler effect for light

Doppler effect for light


Light from distant galaxies is redshifted

Light from distant galaxies is redshifted


Distances and velocities of galaxies

Distances and velocities of galaxies

  • If you measure the distances to a large set of galaxies and also measure the speed of the galaxies using the redshift, what do you find?


Hubble expansion v h 0 d

Hubble expansion v = H0d


Expansion of the universe

Expansion of the Universe


Expansion of the universe1

Expansion of the Universe

  • Blow up the balloon to about a 3 inch diameter. Twist the neck and hold it closed so that no air escapes, but do NOT make a knot because you will need to blow it up some more. Make SIX dots on its surface to represent galaxies and label them A-F.

  • Measure and record the distances from cluster A to each of the other 5 clusters.

  • Measure and record the distances from cluster D to each of the other 5 clusters.

  • Blow up the balloon up more, to a diameter of about 6 inches. Measure the distances between the same clusters again and record them.


Expansion of the universe2

Expansion of the Universe

  • Are all the other clusters moving away from cluster A?

  • Are all the other clusters moving away from cluster D?

  • Is there a cluster that could be considered to be at the center of the universe as represented by the surface of the balloon?


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