What goes on inside the heart of a star? Astronomers have been developing theories about stars inner workings for decades, but evidence to confirm the details of those theories has been sparse.
Figure1: A 5x5 arcminute CCD image of the prototype gravity-mode pulsating subdwarf B star, PG1716+426, and nearby comparison stars. North is up and East is to the left. The subdwarf B star pulsator is the brightest star in the northeast quadrant. The image was taken through an R filter at the University of Arizona Mt. Bigelow 1.6 m telescope and is one of hundreds used to measure the light curve of the star.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Green of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona and NSF.
In research supported by NSF, University of Arizona astronomer Elizabeth Green and colleagues have found a new subset of "nearly-naked" stars that dim and brighten due to pulses in their cores. The stars, which may help unlock secrets of advanced stages of stellar evolution, are described in the January 20 Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Chemical and physical changes inside star cores cause the light they emit to pulsate, becoming brighter and dimmer in slowly changing patterns. Analysis of these pulsations would give scientists a better of idea of the processes going on inside stars and help them understand how they change from one type to another. Until now, though, astronomers have been frustrated by the faintness of the pulses.
Roberta Hotinski | National Science Foundation
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