Between 1916 and 1926, Arthur Stanley Eddington developed models of the temperature, pressure and density in the interior of stars. The models generated a relationship between stellar mass and luminosity that agreed well with observation. Coupled with the evolutionary theory that astronomers then thought governed stars, the models explained the distribution of stars upon the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. This thesis argues that Eddington's models were shaped by the cosmological concerns that had preoccupied the British astronomical community in the preceding decade. British astronomers participated in a program of statistical cosmology, spearheaded by the Dutch astronomer, J. C. Kapteyn, to map the universe by studying the distribution of stars in neighborhoods successively more distant from the sun. The parameters of chief concern in this program were proper motion, which was used to measure stellar distance, and luminosity, considered the most important inherent characteristic of a star. In 1913 Henry Norris Russell published an empirical diagram of stellar luminosity and spectral type, on which he based a new theory of the evolution of stars from bright, red giants to bright, blue giants, to faint red dwarfs. British astronomers recognized the theory and diagram as fruits of the statistical program, and they rapidly accepted its parameters as the ones a stellar model should generate. Prompted by his interest in cepheid variable stars to construct a model of stars in radiative equilibrium, Eddington's first concern was to reproduce the features of Russell's diagram. Russell's evolutionary theory played so large a role in Eddington's work that when his own mass -luminosity relationship threatened to overturn it, he tailored his theory of stellar energy generation to preserve it.
- Pub Date:
- June 1991
- EDDINGTON ARTHUR STANLEY;
- History of Science, Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics, History: Modern