Scientists listen to sounds from oldest stars in our galaxy

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London | Published: June 7, 2016 4:58:52 PM

The researchers reported the detection of resonant acoustic oscillations of stars in 'M4', one of the oldest known clusters of stars in the galaxy, some 13 billion years old.

These oscillations lead to miniscule changes or pulses in brightness, and are caused by sound trapped inside the stars. By measuring the tones in this 'stellar music', it is possible to determine the mass and age of individual stars. (Reuters)By measuring the tones in this ‘stellar music’, it is possible to determine the mass and age of individual stars. (Reuters)

Astrophysicists from the University of Birmingham have captured the sounds of some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way galaxy, a study says.

The findings could help researchers understand how our galaxy formed and evolved.

“We were thrilled to be able to listen to some of the stellar relics of the early universe,” said lead researcher Andrea Miglio.

The researchers reported the detection of resonant acoustic oscillations of stars in ‘M4’, one of the oldest known clusters of stars in the galaxy, some 13 billion years old.

“The stars we have studied really are living fossils from the time of the formation of our Galaxy, and we now hope be able to unlock the secrets of how spiral galaxies, like our own, formed and evolved,” Miglio noted.

Using data from the NASA Kepler/K2 mission, the team studied the resonant oscillations of stars using a technique called asteroseismology.

These oscillations lead to miniscule changes or pulses in brightness, and are caused by sound trapped inside the stars. By measuring the tones in this ‘stellar music’, it is possible to determine the mass and age of individual stars.

The findings published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society open the door to using asteroseismology to study the very early history of our galaxy.

“Just as archaeologists can reveal the past by excavating the earth, so we can use sound inside the stars to perform Galactic archaeology,” Professor Bill Chaplin said.

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