Nearest galaxy to our Milky Way is 163,000 light-years away: Astronomers
Scientists using telescopes at European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile as well as others around the globe found the nearby dwarf galaxy called the
Large Magellanic Cloud lies 163,000 light-years away.
The new measurement improves scientists' knowledge of the rate of expansion of the Universe - the Hubble Constant – and is a crucial step towards understanding the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is causing the expansion to accelerate.
"I am very excited because astronomers have been trying for a hundred years to accurately measure the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud, and it has proved to be extremely difficult," said Wolfgang Gieren from Universidad de Concepcion, Chile and one of the leaders of the team.
"Now we have solved this problem by demonstrably having a result accurate to 2 per cent," he said in an ESO statement.
The astronomers worked out the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud by observing rare close pairs of stars, known as eclipsing binaries.
As these stars orbit each other they pass in front of each other. When this happens, as seen from Earth, the total brightness drops, both when one star passes in front of the
other and, by a different amount, when it passes behind.
By tracking these changes in brightness very carefully, and also measuring the stars' orbital speeds, it is possible to work out how big the
Be the first to comment.