Word Play ~ Standard Candle


Along time ago I watched a documentary about space discoveries and while watching I typed a phrase into a notepad on my phone–standard candle. It was a phrase I had never come across before and as someone who is fascinated by words, I wanted to ensure the phrase was written down for future reference. Now I'm sharing the meaning and background of this phrase with you, reader. I'll also be trying my hand at literal and figurative usage of the phrase.

Meaning

Standard candle (noun): A source or class of astrophysical objects with a known luminosity (an objects brightness) or absolute magnitude, meaning it's luminosity helps to establish the object's distance from Earth. Dr. Jennifer Hatchell from the University of Exeter states that, "Light sources which are further away appear fainter because the light is spread out over a greater area. If we know how luminous a source really is, then we can estimate its distance from how bright it appears from Earth."

Examples

  1. Since the supernovae was a standard candle, the astronomer was able to use it's luminosity to judge its distance from the Earth.

  2. These days you're getting dimmer; it's hard to find you with my standard candles.

You can read more about standard candles from the following sources: Researcher in Residence, Universe Review, Swinburne University of Technology

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