Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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23-Oct-2008

Contact: SciPak
scipak@aaas.org
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

The good vibrations of the stars



Did you know that the Sun is vibrating? It's very hard to see, but researchers who study the Sun can measure how strong those vibrations are. They can also tell how smooth the surface of the Sun is. But, until now, researchers have not been able to see any other stars in our solar system clearly enough to measure those kinds of things.

Eric Michel and a large team of researchers from Europe and South America studied data from a satellite, called the CoRoT, and were able to observe the vibrations and the surface texture of three other stars in the solar system for the first time. These three stars are similar to our Sun, but hotter.

The results of the CoRoT satellite data show that the three other stars have stronger vibrations than those of our Sun, and that they also have a finer surface texture. Michel and the team of researchers say that the stars' vibrations are about 1.5 times as intense as our Sun's, and the surface texture is three times finer. But even though the other stars are vibrating much stronger than the Sun, their vibrations are still about 25% weaker than most researchers predicted they would be.

This discovery increases what we know about stars and the Sun in general, and should also help other researchers learn more about the history of the universe. They represent the first time that researchers have been able to see the vibrations and surface texture of stars other than our Sun. It would not have been possible using telescopes on Earth, so this discovery also demonstrates the importance of space-based observations using satellites.

This research will appear in the 24 October issue of Science.

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