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Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 341, Issue 1, pp 15–29 | Cite as

Building the cosmic distance scale: from Hipparcos to Gaia

  • Catherine Turon
  • Xavier Luri
  • Eduard Masana
Original Article

Abstract

Hipparcos, the first ever experiment of global astrometry, was launched by ESA (European Space Agency) in 1989 and its results published in 1997 (Perryman et al. in Astron. Astrophys. 323:L49, 1997; Perryman & ESA (eds.) in The Hipparcos and Tycho catalogues, ESA SP-1200, 1997). A new reduction was later performed using an improved satellite attitude reconstruction leading to an improved accuracy for stars brighter than 9th magnitude (van Leeuwen & Fantino in Astron. Astrophys. 439:791, 2005; van Leeuwen in Astron. Astrophys. 474:653, 2007a). The Hipparcos Catalogue provided an extended dataset of very accurate astrometric data (positions, trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions), enlarging by two orders of magnitude the quantity and quality of distance determinations and luminosity calibrations. The availability of more than 20 000 stars (22 000 for the original catalogue, 30 000 for the re-reduction) with a trigonometric parallax known to better than 10% opened the way to a drastic revision of our 3-D knowledge of the solar neighbourhood and to a renewal of the calibration of many distance indicators and age estimations. The prospects opened by Gaia, the next ESA cornerstone, planned for launch in 2013 (Perryman et al., in Astron. Astrophys. 369:339, 2001), are still much more dramatic: a billion objects with systematic and quasi simultaneous astrometric, spectrophotometric and spectroscopic observations, about 150 million stars with expected distances to better than 10%, all over the Galaxy. All stellar distance indicators, in very large numbers, will be directly measured, providing a direct calibration of their luminosity and making possible detailed studies of the impacts of various effects linked to chemical element abundances, age or cluster membership. With the help of simulations of the data expected from Gaia, obtained from the mission simulator developed by DPAC (Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium), we will illustrate what Gaia can provide with some selected examples.

Keywords

Space observatory Astrometry Hipparcos Gaia Stars: distances Stars: fundamental parameters Star clusters Pulsating variable stars Distance scale 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors want to acknowledge the organisers for offering them the opportunity of this review paper. X. Luri and E. Masana acknowledge the MICINN (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation)—FEDER through grant AYA 2009-14648-C02-01 and CONSOLIDER CSD 2007 00050. The simulations presented in this paper have been done in the supercomputer MareNostrum at Barcelona Supercomputing Center—Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (The Spanish National Supercomputing Center). The authors also want to acknowledge the use of NASA’s Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services and of the VizieR catalogue access tool, CDS, Strasbourg, France (Ochsenbein 2000).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GEPI-UMR 81111Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université Paris-DiderotMeudonFrance
  2. 2.Departament d’Astronomia i Meteorologia (ICCUB-IEEC)Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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