Climbing the cosmic ladder with stellar twins

P. Jofré, Thomas Mädler, Gerry Gilmore, A. R. Casey, C. Soubiran, Kim C Worley

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Distances to stars are key to revealing a three-dimensional view of the Milky Way, yet their determination is a major challenge in astronomy. Whilst the brightest nearby stars benefit from direct parallax measurements, fainter stars are subject of indirect determinations with uncertainties exceeding 30 per cent. We present an alternative approach to measuring distances using spectroscopically identified twin stars. Given a star with known parallax, the distance to its twin is assumed to be directly related to the difference in their apparent magnitudes. We found 175 twin pairs from the science public archive of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) archives and report excellent agreement with Hipparcos parallaxes within 7.5 per cent. Most importantly, the accuracy of our results does not degrade with increasing stellar distance. With the ongoing collection of high-resolution stellar spectra, our method is well suited to complement Gaia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1428-1438
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Parallaxes
  • Stars: distances
  • Survey

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