The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was originally proposed and funded in the 1970's with a launch planned for the early 1980's. However, the launch finally occurred on April 24, 1990, largely due to the Challenger accident. Once launched in 1990, one of HST's earliest projects was the Key Project. One of the main purposes of the Key Project was to calibrate the distances to nearby galaxies and determine a definitive value of the Hubble constant H0. All secondary distance determination methods were based on the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variable stars. This thesis examines the Cepheid data from the Key Project by first redetermining the periods of Cepheids in selected galaxies and then applying a time correction to the data. This time correction is to compensate for the effects of the recessional motion of each galaxies, as caused by the finite speed of light. The recovery stage of the project was mostly successful, but revealed concerns with the original data set. This result led to less compelling results for the time-correction stage due to the larger than anticipated errors. A further examination was performed on part of the sample by using a more accurate form of the time input as found in the HST image headers. Overall we conclude that the short observation baseline of the Cepheids, with medium to long periods, is a major deficiency of the Cepheid data from the Key Project with regard to testing for the effects of recessional motion. Future studies on the effects of the time correction need to be done using data with longer time coverage that spans at least 4 pulsational cycles, perferably more than 30 cycles.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy



Date Submitted


Document Type





Cepheids, P — L relation, time correction, Hubble Space Telescope Key Project, Peranso, variable star period search