US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Listening to the beating hearts of stars, astronomers first determined the rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects, which until now has puzzled scientists. Their results are reported in the journal Nature.
“Previously, we found too many messages to understand these pulsating stars – stars whose luminosity changes dramatically due to radial and non-radial pulsations of their surface,” said lead author Professor Tim Bedding of the University of Sydney. “It was a mess, like listening to a cat walking on a piano.”
The international team used data from the TESS space telescope, which is mainly used to detect exoplanets around stars closest to Earth. He provided the team with measurements of the brightness of thousands of stars, which allowed them to find 60 whose pulsations made sense to investigate.
The findings are an important contribution to our common understanding of what is happening inside countless trillions of stars across the cosmos.
The considered medium-sized stars — about 1.5-2.5 times the mass of our Sun — are known as Shield Delta stars, named after the variable star in the constellation Shield. In studying the pulsations of this class of stars, astronomers were previously unable to determine any clear pattern.
An Australian team of astronomers has reported the discovery of surprisingly regular high-frequency pulsation modes in 60 Shield Delta stars ranging from 60 to 1,400 light-years away.
Daniel Hey, PhD at the University of Sydney and co-author of the study, developed software that allowed the team to process data from TESS.
“We needed to process all 92,000 light curves that show the brightness of a star over time. From here we had to remove the noise, leaving clear pictures of the 60 stars identified in the study, ”he said.
“Using the open source Python library, Lightkurve, we were able to process all the light curves on my university desktop computer in just a few days.”
“This final identification opens up a new way by which we can determine the masses, age and internal structure of these stars,” said Professor Bedding.
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