Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn (1851-1922) presented a model for the distribution of stars in space together with a dynamical interpretation in terms of an equilibrium between the gravitational field of the stars and their random motion and rotation. In the vertical direction Kapteyn's results are substantially correct. Usually the Kapteyn Universe is described as being flawed due to neglect of interstellar absorption. Kapteyn was led to adopt this on the basis of widely accepted evidence by Shapley on an absence of reddening of stars in globular clusters. But another, equally important misconception was Kapteyn's interpretation of the two Star Streams as manifestations of two groups of stars rotating around a center in opposite directions. This was supported by the observation of very different mixes in stellar types in the two streams. Had Kapteyn adopted the absorption as he himself had determined it he would not have been able to arrive at a consistent picture.
Lessons from the Local Group: A Conference in honor of David Block and Bruce Elmegreen
- Pub Date:
- Physics - History and Philosophy of Physics;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- To appear in LESSONS FROM THE LOCAL GROUP: A Conference in Honour of David Block and Bruce Elmegreen, eds. Freeman, K.C., Elmegreen, B.G., Block, D.L.and Woolway, M., Springer: New York