Astrophysics (Index)About

stellar radius determination

(methods by which the radius of a star is determined)

Stellar radius determination is generally approximated by the formula relating luminosity, temperature, and radius:

L = 4πR2sT4

Or if the values are given in terms of the Sun's values:


Both L and T need to be measured or estimated. Temperature is generally related to the B-V color index. With a parallax distance measurement, luminosity is related to the apparent magnitude. This yields a very rough estimate: merely basing the temperature on b-v can result in a radius off by as much as 50%. When a parallax distance is not available, an even rougher estimate can be made using the mass-luminosity relation and mass-radius relation. More accurate determination uses:

Only a few hundred stars have been measured by these more accurate methods. Using the more accurate radius in the above formula can sometimes yield a more accurate temperature determination. One use for the radius is in the study of transiting extra-solar planets, to determine characteristics of the planet's orbit and/or radius.

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
California-Kepler Survey (CKS)
Palomar Testbed Interferometer (PTI)
stellar luminosity determination
stellar parameter determination
surface gravity (g)