Camille Guillaume Bigourdan was a French astronomer. Bigourdan was born at Tarn-et-Garonne to Pierre Bigourdan and Jeanne Carrière. In 1877 he was appointed by Félix Tisserand as assistant astronomer at the Toulouse Observatory, in 1879 followed Tisserand to the Paris Observatory when the latter became director there, he spent many years verifying the positions of 6380 nebulae. He hoped to set a basis for future studies of the proper motion of nebulae. However, he did discover 500 new objects. In 1902 he participated in an effort to redetermine with greater precision the longitude difference between London and Paris, he became a member of the Bureau des Longitudes in 1903, a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1904. He described a method for adjusting equatorial mount telescopes, known as "Bigourdan's method". Bigourdan won the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences in 1883 and in 1891, the Valz Prize of the same institution in 1886, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1919.
He was director of the Bureau International de l'Heure from 1919 to 1928. In 1919, he received the Prix Jules Janssen, the highest award of the Société astronomique de France, the French astronomical society, he married a daughter of Amédée Mouchez. Levy, Jacques R.. "Bigourdan, Camille Guillaume". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9. Works by or about Guillaume Bigourdan at Internet Archive Awarding of RAS gold medal G. Bigourdan @ Astrophysics Data SystemObituariesJRASC 26 276 MNRAS 93 233 Obs 55 116 PASP 44 133
Cosmic distance ladder
The cosmic distance ladder is the succession of methods by which astronomers determine the distances to celestial objects. A real direct distance measurement of an astronomical object is possible only for those objects that are "close enough" to Earth; the techniques for determining distances to more distant objects are all based on various measured correlations between methods that work at close distances and methods that work at larger distances. Several methods rely on a standard candle, an astronomical object that has a known luminosity; the ladder analogy arises because no single technique can measure distances at all ranges encountered in astronomy. Instead, one method can be used to measure nearby distances, a second can be used to measure nearby to intermediate distances, so on; each rung of the ladder provides information that can be used to determine the distances at the next higher rung. At the base of the ladder are fundamental distance measurements, in which distances are determined directly, with no physical assumptions about the nature of the object in question.
The precise measurement of stellar positions is part of the discipline of astrometry. Direct distance measurements are based upon the astronomical unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Kepler's laws provide precise ratios of the sizes of the orbits of objects orbiting the Sun, but provides no measurement of the overall scale of the orbit system. Radar is used to measure the distance of a second body. From that measurement and the ratio of the two orbit sizes, the size of Earth's orbit is calculated; the Earth's orbit is known with an absolute precision of a few meters and a relative precision of a few 1×10−11. Observations of transits of Venus were crucial in determining the AU. Presently the orbit of Earth is determined with high precision using radar measurements of distances to Venus and other nearby planets and asteroids, by tracking interplanetary spacecraft in their orbits around the Sun through the Solar System; the most important fundamental distance measurements come from trigonometric parallax.
As the Earth orbits the Sun, the position of nearby stars will appear to shift against the more distant background. These shifts are angles in an isosceles triangle, with 2 AU making the base leg of the triangle and the distance to the star being the long equal length legs; the amount of shift is quite small, measuring 1 arcsecond for an object at 1 parsec's distance of the nearest stars, thereafter decreasing in angular amount as the distance increases. Astronomers express distances in units of parsecs; because parallax becomes smaller for a greater stellar distance, useful distances can be measured only for stars which are near enough to have a parallax larger than a few times the precision of the measurement. Parallax measurements have an accuracy measured in milliarcseconds. In the 1990s, for example, the Hipparcos mission obtained parallaxes for over a hundred thousand stars with a precision of about a milliarcsecond, providing useful distances for stars out to a few hundred parsecs; the Hubble telescope WFC3 now has the potential to provide a precision of 20 to 40 microarcseconds, enabling reliable distance measurements up to 5,000 parsecs for small numbers of stars.
In 2018, Data Release 2 from the Gaia space mission provides accurate distances to most stars brighter than 15th magnitude. Stars have a velocity relative to the Sun that causes radial velocity; the former is determined by plotting the changing position of the stars over many years, while the latter comes from measuring the Doppler shift of the star's spectrum caused by motion along the line of sight. For a group of stars with the same spectral class and a similar magnitude range, a mean parallax can be derived from statistical analysis of the proper motions relative to their radial velocities; this statistical parallax method is useful for measuring the distances of bright stars beyond 50 parsecs and giant variable stars, including Cepheids and the RR Lyrae variables. The motion of the Sun through space provides a longer baseline that will increase the accuracy of parallax measurements, known as secular parallax. For stars in the Milky Way disk, this corresponds to a mean baseline of 4 AU per year, while for halo stars the baseline is 40 AU per year.
After several decades, the baseline can be orders of magnitude greater than the Earth–Sun baseline used for traditional parallax. However, secular parallax introduces a higher level of uncertainty because the relative velocity of observed stars is an additional unknown; when applied to samples of multiple stars, the uncertainty can be reduced. Moving cluster parallax is a technique where the motions of individual stars in a nearby star cluster can be used to find the distance to the cluster. Only open clusters are near enough for this technique to be useful. In particular the distance obtained for the Hyades has been an important step in the distance ladder. Other individual objects can have fundamental distance estimates made for them under special circumstances. If the expansion of a gas cloud, like a supernova remnant or planetary nebula, can be observed over time an expansion parallax distance to that cloud can be estimated; those measurements however suf
Sloan Digital Sky Survey
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS is a major multi-spectral imaging and spectroscopic redshift survey using a dedicated 2.5-m wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, United States. The project was named after the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Data collection began in 2000; the main galaxy sample has a median redshift of z = 0.1. Data release 8, released in January 2011, includes all photometric observations taken with the SDSS imaging camera, covering 14,555 square degrees on the sky. Data release 9, released to the public on 31 July 2012, includes the first results from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey spectrograph, including over 800,000 new spectra. Over 500,000 of the new spectra are of objects in the Universe 7 billion years ago. Data release 10, released to the public on 31 July 2013, includes all data from previous releases, plus the first results from the APO Galactic Evolution Experiment spectrograph, including over 57,000 high-resolution infrared spectra of stars in the Milky Way.
DR10 includes over 670,000 new BOSS spectra of galaxies and quasars in the distant universe. The publicly available images from the survey were made between 1998 and 2009. SDSS uses a dedicated 2.5 m wide-angle optical telescope. The imaging camera was retired in late 2009, since the telescope has observed in spectroscopic mode. Images were taken using a photometric system of five filters; these images are processed to produce lists of objects observed and various parameters, such as whether they seem pointlike or extended and how the brightness on the CCDs relates to various kinds of astronomical magnitude. For imaging observations, the SDSS telescope used the drift scanning technique, which tracks the telescope along a great circle on the sky and continuously records small strips of the sky; the image of the stars in the focal plane drifts along the CCD chip, the charge is electronically shifted along the detectors at the same rate, instead of staying fixed as in tracked telescopes.. This method allows consistent astrometry over the widest possible field, minimises overheads from reading out the detectors.
The disadvantage is minor distortion effects. The telescope's imaging camera is made up of 30 CCD chips, each with a resolution of 2048×2048 pixels, totaling 120 megapixels; the chips are arranged in 5 rows of 6 chips. Each row has a different optical filter with average wavelengths of 355.1, 468.6, 616.5, 748.1 and 893.1 nm, with 95% completeness in typical seeing to magnitudes of 22.0, 22.2, 22.2, 21.3, 20.5, for u, g, r, i, z respectively. The filters are placed on the camera in the order r, i, u, z, g. To reduce noise, the camera is cooled to 190 kelvins by liquid nitrogen. Using these photometric data, stars and quasars are selected for spectroscopy; the spectrograph operates by feeding an individual optical fibre for each target through a hole drilled in an aluminum plate. Each hole is positioned for a selected target, so every field in which spectra are to be acquired requires a unique plate; the original spectrograph attached to the telescope was capable of recording 640 spectra while the updated spectrograph for SDSS III can record 1000 spectra at once.
Over the course of each night, between six and nine plates are used for recording spectra. In spectroscopic mode, the telescope tracks the sky in the standard way, keeping the objects focused on their corresponding fibre tips; every night the telescope produces about 200 GB of data. During its first phase of operations, 2000–2005, the SDSS imaged more than 8,000 square degrees of the sky in five optical bandpasses, it obtained spectra of galaxies and quasars selected from 5,700 square degrees of that imaging, it obtained repeated imaging of a 300 square degree stripe in the southern Galactic cap. In 2005 the survey entered a new phase, the SDSS-II, by extending the observations to explore the structure and stellar makeup of the Milky Way, the SEGUE and the Sloan Supernova Survey, which watches after supernova Ia events to measure the distances to far objects; the survey covers over 7,500 square degrees of the Northern Galactic Cap with data from nearly 2 million objects and spectra from over 800,000 galaxies and 100,000 quasars.
The information on the position and distance of the objects has allowed the large-scale structure of the Universe, with its voids and filaments, to be investigated for the first time. All of these data were obtained in SDSS-I, but a small part of the footprint was finished in SDSS-II; the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration obtained spectra of 240,000 stars in order to create a detailed three-dimensional map of the Milky Way. SEGUE data provide evidence for the age and phase space distribution of stars within the various Galactic components, providing crucial clues for understanding the structure, formation a
The apparent magnitude of an astronomical object is a number, a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth. The magnitude scale is logarithmic. A difference of 1 in magnitude corresponds to a change in brightness by a factor of 5√100, or about 2.512. The brighter an object appears, the lower its magnitude value, with the brightest astronomical objects having negative apparent magnitudes: for example Sirius at −1.46. The measurement of apparent magnitudes or brightnesses of celestial objects is known as photometry. Apparent magnitudes are used to quantify the brightness of sources at ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. An apparent magnitude is measured in a specific passband corresponding to some photometric system such as the UBV system. In standard astronomical notation, an apparent magnitude in the V filter band would be denoted either as mV or simply as V, as in "mV = 15" or "V = 15" to describe a 15th-magnitude object; the scale used to indicate magnitude originates in the Hellenistic practice of dividing stars visible to the naked eye into six magnitudes.
The brightest stars in the night sky were said to be of first magnitude, whereas the faintest were of sixth magnitude, the limit of human visual perception. Each grade of magnitude was considered twice the brightness of the following grade, although that ratio was subjective as no photodetectors existed; this rather crude scale for the brightness of stars was popularized by Ptolemy in his Almagest and is believed to have originated with Hipparchus. In 1856, Norman Robert Pogson formalized the system by defining a first magnitude star as a star, 100 times as bright as a sixth-magnitude star, thereby establishing the logarithmic scale still in use today; this implies that a star of magnitude m is about 2.512 times as bright as a star of magnitude m + 1. This figure, the fifth root of 100, became known as Pogson's Ratio; the zero point of Pogson's scale was defined by assigning Polaris a magnitude of 2. Astronomers discovered that Polaris is variable, so they switched to Vega as the standard reference star, assigning the brightness of Vega as the definition of zero magnitude at any specified wavelength.
Apart from small corrections, the brightness of Vega still serves as the definition of zero magnitude for visible and near infrared wavelengths, where its spectral energy distribution approximates that of a black body for a temperature of 11000 K. However, with the advent of infrared astronomy it was revealed that Vega's radiation includes an Infrared excess due to a circumstellar disk consisting of dust at warm temperatures. At shorter wavelengths, there is negligible emission from dust at these temperatures. However, in order to properly extend the magnitude scale further into the infrared, this peculiarity of Vega should not affect the definition of the magnitude scale. Therefore, the magnitude scale was extrapolated to all wavelengths on the basis of the black-body radiation curve for an ideal stellar surface at 11000 K uncontaminated by circumstellar radiation. On this basis the spectral irradiance for the zero magnitude point, as a function of wavelength, can be computed. Small deviations are specified between systems using measurement apparatuses developed independently so that data obtained by different astronomers can be properly compared, but of greater practical importance is the definition of magnitude not at a single wavelength but applying to the response of standard spectral filters used in photometry over various wavelength bands.
With the modern magnitude systems, brightness over a wide range is specified according to the logarithmic definition detailed below, using this zero reference. In practice such apparent magnitudes do not exceed 30; the brightness of Vega is exceeded by four stars in the night sky at visible wavelengths as well as the bright planets Venus and Jupiter, these must be described by negative magnitudes. For example, the brightest star of the celestial sphere, has an apparent magnitude of −1.4 in the visible. Negative magnitudes for other bright astronomical objects can be found in the table below. Astronomers have developed other photometric zeropoint systems as alternatives to the Vega system; the most used is the AB magnitude system, in which photometric zeropoints are based on a hypothetical reference spectrum having constant flux per unit frequency interval, rather than using a stellar spectrum or blackbody curve as the reference. The AB magnitude zeropoint is defined such that an object's AB and Vega-based magnitudes will be equal in the V filter band.
As the amount of light received by a telescope is reduced by transmission through the Earth's atmosphere, any measurement of apparent magnitude is corrected for what it would have been as seen from above the atmosphere. The dimmer an object appears, the higher the numerical value given to its apparent magnitude, with a difference of 5 magnitudes corresponding to a brightness factor of 100. Therefore, the apparent magnitude m, in the spectral band x, would be given by m x = − 5 log 100 , more expressed in terms of common logarithms as m x
SIMBAD is an astronomical database of objects beyond the Solar System. It is maintained by the Centre de données astronomiques de France. SIMBAD was created by merging the Catalog of Stellar Identifications and the Bibliographic Star Index as they existed at the Meudon Computer Centre until 1979, expanded by additional source data from other catalogues and the academic literature; the first on-line interactive version, known as Version 2, was made available in 1981. Version 3, developed in the C language and running on UNIX stations at the Strasbourg Observatory, was released in 1990. Fall of 2006 saw the release of Version 4 of the database, now stored in PostgreSQL, the supporting software, now written in Java; as of 10 February 2017, SIMBAD contains information for 9,099,070 objects under 24,529,080 different names, with 327,634 bibliographical references and 15,511,733 bibliographic citations. The minor planet 4692 SIMBAD was named in its honour. Planetary Data System – NASA's database of information on SSSB, maintained by JPL and Caltech.
NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database – a database of information on objects outside the Milky Way maintained by JPL. NASA Exoplanet Archive – an online astronomical exoplanet catalog and data service Bibcode SIMBAD, Strasbourg SIMBAD, Harvard
A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass. Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as spiral, or irregular. Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centers; the Milky Way's central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun. As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang. Research released in 2016 revised the number of galaxies in the observable universe from a previous estimate of 200 billion to a suggested 2 trillion or more, containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.
Most of the galaxies are 1,000 to 100,000 parsecs in diameter and separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs. For comparison, the Milky Way has a diameter of at least 30,000 parsecs and is separated from the Andromeda Galaxy, its nearest large neighbor, by 780,000 parsecs; the space between galaxies is filled with a tenuous gas having an average density of less than one atom per cubic meter. The majority of galaxies are gravitationally organized into groups and superclusters; the Milky Way is part of the Local Group, dominated by it and the Andromeda Galaxy and is part of the Virgo Supercluster. At the largest scale, these associations are arranged into sheets and filaments surrounded by immense voids; the largest structure of galaxies yet recognised is a cluster of superclusters, named Laniakea, which contains the Virgo supercluster. The origin of the word galaxy derives from the Greek term for the Milky Way, galaxias, or kyklos galaktikos due to its appearance as a "milky" band of light in the sky.
In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away, some of her milk spills, it produces the faint band of light known as the Milky Way. In the astronomical literature, the capitalized word "Galaxy" is used to refer to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to distinguish it from the other galaxies in our universe; the English term Milky Way can be traced back to a story by Chaucer c. 1380: "See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt." Galaxies were discovered telescopically and were known as spiral nebulae. Most 18th to 19th Century astronomers considered them as either unresolved star clusters or anagalactic nebulae, were just thought as a part of the Milky Way, but their true composition and natures remained a mystery. Observations using larger telescopes of a few nearby bright galaxies, like the Andromeda Galaxy, began resolving them into huge conglomerations of stars, but based on the apparent faintness and sheer population of stars, the true distances of these objects placed them well beyond the Milky Way.
For this reason they were popularly called island universes, but this term fell into disuse, as the word universe implied the entirety of existence. Instead, they became known as galaxies. Tens of thousands of galaxies have been catalogued, but only a few have well-established names, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Sombrero Galaxy. Astronomers work with numbers from certain catalogues, such as the Messier catalogue, the NGC, the IC, the CGCG, the MCG and UGC. All of the well-known galaxies appear in one or more of these catalogues but each time under a different number. For example, Messier 109 is a spiral galaxy having the number 109 in the catalogue of Messier, having the designations NGC 3992, UGC 6937, CGCG 269-023, MCG +09-20-044, PGC 37617; the realization that we live in a galaxy, one among many galaxies, parallels major discoveries that were made about the Milky Way and other nebulae. The Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that the bright band on the night sky known as the Milky Way might consist of distant stars.
Aristotle, believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars that were large and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the World, continuous with the heavenly motions." The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger was critical of this view, arguing that if the Milky Way is sublunary it should appear different at different times and places on Earth, that it should have parallax, which it does not. In his view, the Milky Way is celestial. According to Mohani Mohamed, the Arabian astronomer Alhazen made the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way's parallax, he thus "determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax, it must be remote from the Earth, not belonging to the atmosphere." The Persian astronomer al-Bīrūnī
Right ascension is the angular distance of a particular point measured eastward along the celestial equator from the Sun at the March equinox to the point above the earth in question. When paired with declination, these astronomical coordinates specify the direction of a point on the celestial sphere in the equatorial coordinate system. An old term, right ascension refers to the ascension, or the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from Earth's equator, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at a right angle, it contrasts with oblique ascension, the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from most latitudes on Earth, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at an oblique angle. Right ascension is the celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude. Both right ascension and longitude measure an angle from a primary direction on an equator. Right ascension is measured from the Sun at the March equinox i.e. the First Point of Aries, the place on the celestial sphere where the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the March equinox and is located in the constellation Pisces.
Right ascension is measured continuously in a full circle from that alignment of Earth and Sun in space, that equinox, the measurement increasing towards the east. As seen from Earth, objects noted to have 12h RA are longest visible at the March equinox. On those dates at midnight, such objects will reach their highest point. How high depends on their declination. Any units of angular measure could have been chosen for right ascension, but it is customarily measured in hours and seconds, with 24h being equivalent to a full circle. Astronomers have chosen this unit to measure right ascension because they measure a star's location by timing its passage through the highest point in the sky as the Earth rotates; the line which passes through the highest point in the sky, called the meridian, is the projection of a longitude line onto the celestial sphere. Since a complete circle contains 24h of right ascension or 360°, 1/24 of a circle is measured as 1h of right ascension, or 15°. A full circle, measured in right-ascension units, contains 24 × 60 × 60 = 86400s, or 24 × 60 = 1440m, or 24h.
Because right ascensions are measured in hours, they can be used to time the positions of objects in the sky. For example, if a star with RA = 1h 30m 00s is at its meridian a star with RA = 20h 00m 00s will be on the/at its meridian 18.5 sidereal hours later. Sidereal hour angle, used in celestial navigation, is similar to right ascension, but increases westward rather than eastward. Measured in degrees, it is the complement of right ascension with respect to 24h, it is important not to confuse sidereal hour angle with the astronomical concept of hour angle, which measures angular distance of an object westward from the local meridian. The Earth's axis rotates westward about the poles of the ecliptic, completing one cycle in about 26,000 years; this movement, known as precession, causes the coordinates of stationary celestial objects to change continuously, if rather slowly. Therefore, equatorial coordinates are inherently relative to the year of their observation, astronomers specify them with reference to a particular year, known as an epoch.
Coordinates from different epochs must be mathematically rotated to match each other, or to match a standard epoch. Right ascension for "fixed stars" near the ecliptic and equator increases by about 3.05 seconds per year on average, or 5.1 minutes per century, but for fixed stars further from the ecliptic the rate of change can be anything from negative infinity to positive infinity. The right ascension of Polaris is increasing quickly; the North Ecliptic Pole in Draco and the South Ecliptic Pole in Dorado are always at right ascension 18h and 6h respectively. The used standard epoch is J2000.0, January 1, 2000 at 12:00 TT. The prefix "J" indicates. Prior to J2000.0, astronomers used the successive Besselian epochs B1875.0, B1900.0, B1950.0. The concept of right ascension has been known at least as far back as Hipparchus who measured stars in equatorial coordinates in the 2nd century BC, but Hipparchus and his successors made their star catalogs in ecliptic coordinates, the use of RA was limited to special cases.
With the invention of the telescope, it became possible for astronomers to observe celestial objects in greater detail, provided that the telescope could be kept pointed at the object for a period of time. The easiest way to do, to use an equatorial mount, which allows the telescope to be aligned with one of its two pivots parallel to the Earth's axis. A motorized clock drive is used with an equatorial mount to cancel out the Earth's rotation; as the equatorial mount became adopted for observation, the equatorial coordinate system, which includes right ascension, was adopted at the same time for simplicity. Equatorial mounts could be pointed at objects with known right ascension and declination by the use of setting circles; the first star catalog to use right ascen