# 19.4 The h–r diagram and cosmic distances  (Page 2/12)

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With both its spectral and luminosity classes known, a star’s position on the H–R diagram is uniquely determined. Since the diagram plots luminosity versus temperature, this means we can now read off the star’s luminosity (once its spectrum has helped us place it on the diagram). As before, if we know how luminous the star really is and see how dim it looks, the difference allows us to calculate its distance. (For historical reasons, astronomers sometimes call this method of distance determination spectroscopic parallax , even though the method has nothing to do with parallax.)

The H–R diagram method allows astronomers to estimate distances to nearby stars, as well as some of the most distant stars in our Galaxy, but it is anchored by measurements of parallax. The distances measured using parallax are the gold standard for distances: they rely on no assumptions, only geometry. Once astronomers take a spectrum of a nearby star for which we also know the parallax, we know the luminosity that corresponds to that spectral type. Nearby stars thus serve as benchmarks for more distant stars because we can assume that two stars with identical spectra have the same intrinsic luminosity.

## A few words about the real world

Introductory textbooks such as ours work hard to present the material in a straightforward and simplified way. In doing so, we sometimes do our students a disservice by making scientific techniques seem too clean and painless. In the real world, the techniques we have just described turn out to be messy and difficult, and often give astronomers headaches that last long into the day.

For example, the relationships we have described such as the period-luminosity relation for certain variable stars aren’t exactly straight lines on a graph. The points representing many stars scatter widely when plotted, and thus, the distances derived from them also have a certain built-in scatter or uncertainty.

The distances we measure with the methods we have discussed are therefore only accurate to within a certain percentage of error—sometimes 10%, sometimes 25%, sometimes as much as 50% or more. A 25% error for a star estimated to be 10,000 light-years away means it could be anywhere from 7500 to 12,500 light-years away. This would be an unacceptable uncertainty if you were loading fuel into a spaceship for a trip to the star, but it is not a bad first figure to work with if you are an astronomer stuck on planet Earth.

Nor is the construction of H–R diagrams as easy as you might think at first. To make a good diagram, one needs to measure the characteristics and distances of many stars, which can be a time-consuming task. Since our own solar neighborhood is already well mapped, the stars astronomers most want to study to advance our knowledge are likely to be far away and faint. It may take hours of observing to obtain a single spectrum. Observers may have to spend many nights at the telescope (and many days back home working with their data) before they get their distance measurement. Fortunately, this is changing because surveys like Gaia will study billions of stars, producing public datasets that all astronomers can use.

why the dark side of moon never face us? because moon dont rotate? why tho
im in 8th standard and my school teach us nothing about astronomy but i want to be an astronomer so i study from youtube and apps like this but sometimes i get language problems
Rishabh
dark**
Glory
side**
Glory
The Moon does actually rotate. It takes 27 days for the Moon to make a full rotation. Because it takes it so long and the Earth is rotating around the sun, it seems like the Moon is pretty much standing still. That's called "synchronous rotation".
steveh259
I ment to say "The Earth is orbiting around the sun"
steveh259
Tidal Locked.....
***svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4442
Collins
thats cool
Gospel
ya gives you a look at how the moon orbits around us too and a perspective of how fast we are going. also gives the moon phases for the year! enjoy 😁
Collins
what phases of the moon occurs when spring tide?
the moon has a 28 day cycle. you can download a moon calander or follow the pattern and make your own calendar. 1st full moon of the year 21/22nd Jan, its also a blood moon and a wolf moon. if this info helps at all. 😊
Collins
***svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4442
Collins
How to determine the velocity of light?
using this formula c=1/√absolute permeability×absolute permittivity of free space i.e. c=1/√8.854×10^-12×4π×10^-7~3×10^8ms^-1
Vidyashankar
what is mean by Big Bang
What it means by Big Bang is how the world was made and came in to exist
Glory
The Big Bang Is The Best Explanation For What We See Around Us, And For The Origin Of The Universe, All Our Evidence Points To The Big Bang Theory..... And Was Proposed By A Belgian Priest.....
if the big bang theory is really true than i would like to know what exploded and where did it came from and where did the energy came from and where come from for the matter to expand into amd where did the organization come from and where did the information come from.........
Gospel
Some say that on the otherside of the singularity was a black hole. They say that at the other end of all black holes is another universe. Hence the multiverse. It's all theoretical at this point but less than a 100 years ago people believed that there was only 1 galaxy in the universe. So why
Rafael
should there be only 1 universe?
Rafael
universe.
Rafael
is astronomy a hard subject to learn because i want to be an astronomer
No it not it just takes time and effort to learn
Glory
Collins
I want to become a scientist but my knowledge is very low. How I can improve my knowledge?
Wwe
any form of science courses, there's free crash course channel on you tube. I've learned alot from this channel. covers most topics, science: biology chemistry physics, astronomy, ranges to anatomy, history and many many more. it's a never ending subject!
Collins
suggest a channel as a example
Wwe
CrashCourse is the name of the channel and there is a picture of an apple. look through their play lists. They will have other related channels they follow also.
Collins
thank you so much
Wwe
Collins
Why are they so far away that their light takes hundreds of millions of years to reach us on earth?
what is comets , astroids ,
comets are broken pieces of dust frozen debris Asteroids are big soiled pieces of Ice that burst into flames when it in to earth's atmosphere
Glory
hi, I am yamini, I am in class 8 but very much interested in astronomy and go to NASA, what are the subjects in which I can master and lead to NASA.
Hello Yamini, Im Ken and I'm avery intrested in joining the NASA too. Is nice to meet you.
Ken
very*
Ken
nice to meet u ken
yamini
What I know about the subjects is that you have to be a master on science and math, also if you know about aviation is better too
Ken
I read that the Russian language is very important, is not a requirement but it's like an extra point!
Ken
yeah like physics, chemistry and maths, they are my most favorite.
yamini
than you can go free of cost
Arush
Yes, That's right!
Ken
how
yamini
Oh! Free of cost?
Ken
hello yamini nice to meet you
Burak
wow from NASA ur so lucky
FNAF
hello yamini nice to meet you
block
what is time
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
It has been proven that there are water molecules on Mars but not enough that most lifeforms could thrive upon.
Ariana
There are huge amounts of water in the ice caps and under the surface. The surface and chemistry indicate that Mars had cosiderable amounts of water on its surface in the past.
Julius
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
guys listen we cannot ever find aliens because our technology is not that great.we don't know whether they exist or no because our universe is very large . Just for an example;even if we spot out aliens we cannot reach there because lot of time must have been passed and before us reaching there
Samuel
what if their species or existence might get vanished our have been extinct!! getting my point
Samuel
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome