Role Of New Horizons SpacecraftNASA's New Horizons spacecraft sent photos of the planet Pluto to the world in 2015 and recently sent close-up photographs of a heavenly body of the Kuiper belt of asteroids. Now, this mission has achieved another achievement. It has worked to measure the distance of two stars from outside our solar system. New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, US said in his statement, "Now it would be fair to say that New Horizons is looking at an alien sky, which is not at all what is visible from our earth."
Telescopes are not enough, most of the world's space telescopes, from the Hubble telescope to the new European Planet Hunter CHEOPS telescope, are close to the Earth. It is very beneficial for them to be out of the atmosphere of the Earth, but sometimes observing from deep space is very beneficial.
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How Scientists Measured The Distance Between Two Stars?In the month of April this year, the team of New Horizons focused their spacecraft's main camera towards Proxima Century, the star closest to the Sun, which is 4.2 light-years away from Earth. With this, the second star Wolf 359 was also seen in the camera. While this photo was being captured, at the same time NASA also asked astronomers to take pictures of both stars from the earth. The New Horizon is 46 times farther from the Sun than the Earth. This also created the possibility that the position of the two stars would look somewhat different from both places. By studying the difference between the two, scientists can find the distance of these two stars from the earth.
Use Of Parallex TechniqueThis technique is very old and was used to measure the distances of stars even when the big telescope was not built. Many 3D maps of our Galaxy have been made with this technology. This map has been created with the help of Giga Probe of the European Space Agency. But the problem with Giga is that it is very close to the Earth. It can only find the distance of those stars which are not only towards the half orbit of the earth but are the opposite. However, this method does not work when the stars are at a greater distance. But New Horizon works on the basis of 46 times more distance, not two times the earth between the Sun. At the same time, the difference will also be seen from the pictures captured from two different places in this case.
However, the thing to note is that the purpose of New Horizon is not to measure the distance of celestial bodies. It cannot even do this work. Even after this, some new information will definitely be found in the photographs.