By Charles Coulston Gillispie
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To him the most interesting result was the correlation between the spectral types and absolute magnitudes of different stars . For those of known parallax, the absolute magnitude decreased systematically from type B to type M-that is, from stars of high surface temperature to those of low surface temperature . This conclusion seemed contrary to the general opinion that many cool, red 18 RUSSELL RUSSELL stars were at great distances and thus were of high luminosity . Russell pointed out that such stars were systematically excluded from parallax studies (since the parallax was undetectably small) and that all the known data could be accounted for under the assumption of two distinct groups of red stars .
At Cambridge . Russell learned about astrometric methods from Hinks . and in 1903 they embarked upon a program of photographically determining stellar parallaxes . Their two main objectives were to find the most suitable compromise between the amount of work done and the accuracy achieved, and to eliminate all known sources of systematic error . Because photographic techniques in astrometry were still plagued with difficulties and were generally considered inferior to visual observations, Hinks and Russell found it desirable to reconsider the entire observing procedure .
Using the sun as a standard, they analyzed seven stars on the basis of high-dispersion spectra taken with the I00-inch telescope . In calculating the relative populations of excited states of atoms in different stars, they found-as expected-that in hotter stars the population of higher states was greater . In the cooler stars, however, the dependence on excitation potential was not what was expected (the Adams-Russell effect), leading them to believe that the atmospheres of cool stars were 21 RUSSELL RUSSELL not in thermodynamic equilibrium .
Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Volume 12. IBN RUSHD - JEAN-SERVAIS STAS by Charles Coulston Gillispie