March 7, 2013

Zooming In On Eclipsing Binary in the Large Magellanic Cloud

This zoom sequence starts with a very broad view of the southern skies and closes in on one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way — Large Magellanic Cloud. Within this galaxy several very faint and rare cool eclipsing binary double stars have been identified. As the two component stars in these binaries orbit each other they pass in front of one another and their combined brightness, seen from a distance, decreases. By studying how the light changes, and other properties of these systems, astronomers can measure the distances to eclipsing binaries very accurately. A long series of observations of these objects has now led to the most accurate determination so far of the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud — a crucial step in the determination of distances across the Universe.

Credit: ESO/Nick Risinger ( Gendler/L. Calça

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