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Astron. Astrophys. 340, 309-314 (1998)

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Absolute measurements of trigonometric parallaxes with astrometric satellites

V.V. Makarov

Copenhagen University Observatory, Juliane Maries Vej 30, DK-2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark

Received 9 February 1998 / Accepted 18 September 1998


The concept of absolute trigonometric parallax measurements is formulated in strict mathematical terms, in connection with the widely discussed plans for a future astrometric space mission. The parallaxes determined for a large number of stars spread all over the sky are absolute if the expected error (accidental or systematic) of the zero-point, as well as other large-scale distortions are orders of magnitude smaller than the average random error for a given star. It is shown by a very general mathematical consideration that the Hipparcos strategy of one-dimensional angular measurements and revolving mode of scanning the sky provides absolute determinations of parallaxes, as far as accidental errors are concerned. As demonstrated by means of a spherical harmonics technique, an even higher absoluteness of parallaxes would be achieved in a future astrometric mission with a larger basic angle between the two viewing directions than that of Hipparcos ([FORMULA]), and a larger revolving scanning angle between the Sun direction and the spin axis of the satellite.

Key words: space vehicles – stars: distances – astrometry

Send offprint requests to: V.V.Makarov@astro.ku.dk

This article contains no SIMBAD objects.


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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: November 3, 1998