City experts throw new light on location of stars
THE stars in the sky may not be where scientists previously thought they were, according to a new study from the University of Edinburgh.
A phenomenon called negative refraction means calculations of their exact locations may be out by millions of miles.
And staff at the university’s school of mathematics, who have worked on the research with Pennsylvania State University, say star maps worked out over the last century need to be re-evaluated.
The researchers used Einstein’s general theory of relativity to show that powerful gravitational fields in outer space may bend light and make distant stars appear much closer or further than they really are.
The university’s Dr Tom Mackay said it was impossible to say how far out the calculations could be. He added: "Light from distant stars passes through many regions of space, influenced by many gravitational fields, before reaching our telescopes.
"To determine where exactly in the universe the light actually originated from is a complex problem and the further away the object, the more difficult it becomes.
"As a consequence of gravitational negative refraction, astronomical measurements need careful re-interpretation."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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