Monday, August 17, 2009

Stellar Distance Revisted

An interesting take on Type 1a supernova, which I have previously mentioned (not cepheid).

It reads like something off the Onion:
"A lack of knowledge about the explosion process didn’t stop Kirshner and his colleagues, along with another team, from using type 1a supernovas to discover in 1998 that a mysterious entity, later dubbed dark energy, is accelerating the expansion of the universe"
We have no idea what's going on, but let's use variances in the measurements to make up more unbelievable stuff!
"Since all 1a’s appear to have the same starting point — blowing up the same amount of mass —they all should have roughly the same luminosity. After adjusting for variations by applying the Phillips relation, which holds that intrinsically brighter supernovas take more time to fade than dimmer ones"
They should have the same luminosity, except when they don't - so we apply some more fudge factors... I found a nifty formula:
Luminosity = 4 pi * distance^2 * apparent_brightness
So, you've got two unknowns, and one equation. I'm really curious how they solve that one.
"When astronomers applied this prescription, they found that light from distant supernovas appeared dimmer than it ought to be based on what had been the accepted model of the universe’s evolution"
In other words, they didn't get the answer they were expecting. Normal people would say, "Hmm, I probably did something wrong at some step in here." But no...
"That unexpected result led in 1998 to an astonishing conclusion: Rather than slowing down, the cosmos has recently sped up its rate of expansion"
Of course! That would be my answer too!

I'm trying to take this stuff seriously, but I guess I am too old and cynical. This response almost writes itself.

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