New Stars on the Cosmic Block Are Fast, Bright and Pulsating

Space.com | 8/6/2012 | Passant Rabie
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Astronomers have stumbled upon a new class of pulsating stars, which change brightness every 6 to 8 minutes with a range of around 10% — much faster and more varied than any other variable stars observed before.

Many stars pulsate, slightly fluctuating their brightness as their outer layers expand and contract. But the scientists were struck by the rate and range of changing brightness observed in four hot subdwarf pulsating stars. Subdwarfs are stars with lower luminosity and mass.

Thing - Thomas - Kupfer - Scholar - University

"It was really hard to distinguish them from any other thing we have seen before," Thomas Kupfer, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lead author of the study, told Space.com. "The brightness change was very, very large, more than 10%, which has not been seen in similar types of stars." Stars usually change brightness by 1-2%, he added, including our own sun.

The four subdwarf stars are one-tenth the size of the sun and are very hot while simultaneously being compact. Their temperatures reach up to 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit (50,000 degrees Celsius), while the sun's surface temperature is around 10,000 F (5,538 C).

Growth - Phase - Star - Star - Star

During its growth phase, a star will begin to "puff up" before becoming a red giant star, or a dying star in the last stages of its evolution. However, Kupfer explained, the newly discovered subdwarfs seem to have lost their envelope of hydrogen, which is why they are high in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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