Native Village
Youth and Education news
 December 1, 2010, Volume 3

Astronomers Listen In to "Red Giant Concert"
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What do the stars sound like?  Data from NASA's Kepler Probe has answered that question.

Astronomers say space is ringing with music produced by red giant stars that swell as they near the end of their life cycle. Bigger stars have a deeper voice than their smaller ones

"It is a red giant concert," said astronomer Daniel Huber from Australia. "They have many different frequencies and overtones."

"Just as it's easy to hear the difference between a note played on a cello and a violin, larger stars naturally flicker in lower tones, while smaller stars flicker in higher tones," said Travis Metcalfe from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

Red stars create sound through earthquake - like oscillations. The oscillations begin on the surface, then travel into the star's core and and back out again. Astronomers were able to use Keplar's data and turn this flickering into astral music.

"Keplar probe is literally listening to thousands of red giant musicians in the sky," Huber said.

The sounds aren't just for music-lovers. They also help scientists determine the star's size, age, and distance from Earth.

"We can use these oscillation periods to study the cores of stars," said Hans Kjeldsen of Aarhus University in Denmark. "In a way, we use this to touch the stars."

Red giants are old stars. Some are hundreds of times the size of our own sun. As the stars grow, they cool and turn from white or yellow to red.

Our sun will become a red giant in about 5,000,000,000 years.

Keplar Probe:

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