Starquake! How Super-Suns Swing, And What It Could Look Like

by Elizabeth Howell on April 1, 2014

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Artist's conception of a starquake cracking the surface of a neutron star. Credit: Darlene McElroy of LANL

Artist’s conception of a starquake cracking the surface of a neutron star. Credit: Darlene McElroy of LANL

Much like how an earthquake can teach us about the interior of the Earth, a starquake shows off certain properties about the inside of a star. Studying the closest star we have (the sun) has yielded information about rotation, radius, mass and other properties of stars that are similar to our own. But how do we apply that information to other types of stars?

A team of astronomers attempted to model the inside of a delta-Scuti, a star like Caleum that is about 1.5 to 2.5 times the mass of the sun and spins rapidly, so much more that it tends to flatten out. The model reveals there is likely a correlation between how these types of stars oscillate, and what their average density is. The theory likely holds for stars as massive as four times the mass of our sun, the team said.

“Thanks to asteroseismology we know precisely the internal structure, mass, radius, rotation and evolution of solar type stars, but we had never been able to apply this tool efficiently to the study of hotter and more massive stars,” stated Juan Carlos Suárez, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia who led the investigation.

Model of an oscillation within the sun. Credit: David Guenther, Saint Mary´s University

What’s more, knowing how dense a star is leads to other understandings: what its mass is, its diameter and also the age of any exoplanets that happen to be hovering nearby. The astronomers added that the models could be of use for the newly selected Planetary Transits and Oscillations (PLATO) telescope that is expected to launch in 2024.

A paper based on the research was published in Astronomy and Astrophysics and is also available in preprint form on Arxiv.

Source: The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Manu April 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM

” a star like Caleum ”
Caelum (not Caleum) is a constellation, not a star.

jc hanford April 2, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Perhaps the intended star is X Caeli, a binary star in which the primary is a Delta Scuti-type variable: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Caeli

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