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Astronomers measure gravitation noise and find way to remedy problem

March 06, 2017, 12:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The calculations have ascertained an error value arising from the influence of the galaxy’s gravitation field

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MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/ Astronomers concluded research on gravitation noise that hinders the pinpointing of heavenly bodies coordinates, calculated "spoilers" and have found out how this problem can be overcome, the MIPT press office reported. The study has been done by researchers from the Aerospace Center at Lebedev Physical Institute (LPI), Institute of Space Investigations RAS, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT)), and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

"Our calculations have ascertained an error value arising from the influence of our galaxy’s gravitation field. One needs to take this into account, when the precision of measurements in astrometry reaches microsecond range," explained Tatyana Larchenkova, senior researcher at LPI’s Aerospace Center.

To define any astrometric parameters, such as angular dimensions, the location of stars and other objects in the perceptible universe, an appropriate coordinate system is needed. All coordinate systems are shaped based on the coordinates of several hundred "defining" sources, reference points, which are located beyond the Milky Way. As reference points, the quasars, the massive black holes, are often chosen, as they almost do not change their positions relative to other objects within the Milky Way.

Planet Earth is situated deep in the Milky Way and people on our planet normally observe the rest of the universe through the galaxy. It appeared that this creates errors when defining coordinates of reference points. The light stemming from a remote star or galaxy deviates when passing an object. If the number of objects increases, the deviation might be substantial. The most pronounced fall in accuracy applies when the objects are observed through the central area of our galaxy, as in this case, the light beam passes in the proximity of many massive objects which attract the light.

According to Alexander Lutovinov, one of the authors of the study, RAS professor and Head of the Institute of Space Investigations’ Laboratory, the accuracy of measurement is limited as a result of this effect. No matter how hard one tries to boost the equipment’s precision, the objects are moving, the deviation of light is changing in time, and reference objects are "wandering". Now, the accuracy of measurement is steady growing but very soon the precision will reach the limit due to the "gravitation noise" error.

The researchers applied models for the dissemination of Galaxy matter and calculated an error which was caused by gravitation noise. Moreover, the scientists researched the properties of gravitation noise, and now one can separate it from the observable data and partially make up for it using mathematical techniques in order to increase the accuracy of measurements.

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