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A group of international researchers found a way to measure the pull of gravity at the surface of distant stars, paving the way for the possible discovery of other worlds.

The key to identifying habitable worlds is determining the gravitational pull of distant stars that orbit such planets. Through the new technique, experts may be one step closer to achieving the dream of discovering life outside Earth.

The New Technique

The new method developed by experts is called autocorrelation function timescale technique. Also known as timescale technique for short, this strategy utilizes ingenious variations in the brightness of distant stars documented via satellites such as NASA's Kepler telescope and Canada's Microvariability and Oscillations of STars telescope (MOST).

Through the timescale technique, experts are able to measure the surface gravity of distant stars commonly not measured through conventional techniques. The accuracy rate for the new method is about 4 percent.

The surface gravity of a star is based on its mass and radius. Such concept is similar to the dependability of a person's weight to the mass and radius of the Earth. With the new technique, astronomers will be able to better estimate the masses and sizes of distant stars.

The timescale technique now raises the bar of studies in astronomy, particularly in investigations involving planets outside of the solar system. Because these planets are so far away, even the most fundamental properties of the stars that orbit them cannot be accurately measured, so a new range of improved techniques are necessary.

"The technique we present here is the first of that new generation," the authors wrote.

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