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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

There's More to the North Star Than Meets the Eye

via PRNewswire

"Our ultimate goal is to get the accurate mass for Polaris," Evans said. "To do that, the next milestone is to measure the motion of the companion in its orbit," she added. Astronomers want to determine the mass of Polaris, because it is the nearest Cepheid variable star. Cepheids' brightness variations are used to measure the distances of galaxies and the expansion rate of the universe. It is essential to understand their intrinsic physics makeup and evolution. Knowing their mass is the most important ingredient in this understanding.

The researchers plan to continue observing the Polaris system for several years. The movement of the small companion during its 30-year orbit around the primary should be detectable. The researchers presented their data todayduring the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. The Institute isoperated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington.

For images and additional information about this research on the Web,visit: For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:


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