Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Whole Earth Telescope Confirms Gem Of A Star

Date:
February 23, 2004
Source:
Iowa State University
Summary:
Thanks to an Iowa State University-led collaboration of 50 astronomers worldwide, there is now the best evidence yet that the galaxy’s “Diamond Star” truly is crystalline.

Thanks to an Iowa State University-led collaboration of 50 astronomers worldwide, there is now the best evidence yet that the galaxy’s “Diamond Star” truly is crystalline.

Steve Kawaler, professor of physics and astronomy, directs the astronomy consortium known as the Whole Earth Telescope (WET), which is funded in part by the National Science Foundation. The group’s goal is to obtain uninterrupted observations of distinctive stars for days at a time. In this case, the WET trained its telescopes on the pulsating white dwarf star BPM37093, or “Diamond Star,” back in 1998 and 1999. WET astronomers monitored it from observatories in South Africa, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, obtaining more than 400 hours of data on the star’s subtle brightness variations.

During these runs, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) also was observing the star. The overall process was coordinated at WET headquarters at Iowa State University.

The scientists measured the vibration frequencies of this slowly cooling remnant of a star (a white dwarf star is the final remnant of stars like our Sun, which has exhausted its nuclear fuel; it is mostly the ash of carbon and oxygen remaining). To listen to how this pulsating star might sound if its frequencies were accelerated, go to http://wet.physics.iastate.edu/Audio/

Astronomers can determine the structure of the star’s interior through the technique of asteroseismology. This process is similar to the terrestrial seismology that provides views of the Earth’s interior. The WET observations have revealed BPM30793’s interior; following several years of analysis, it has been determined that the star’s core is indeed mostly crystalline.

"I can’t begin to describe the dedication of the WET astronomers to their work,” Kawaler said. “Many spent countless hours on cold mountaintops around the world with little to show for it but numbers and graphs. After several years of analysis, though, their work has provided the data needed to show that some stars are indeed mostly crystalline.”

The preliminary interpretation of these results has been submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, in an article authored by WET astronomers from Harvard University, Britain’s University of Cambridge and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Brazilian scientist Antonio Kanaan, who was the first to find that BM37093 vibrates, and the rest of the WET team are completing a more extensive analysis of the data obtained from the WET and HST observations.

The “Diamond Star” is located 50 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. (A light year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles.) The star measures 2,500 miles across and has a mass corresponding to 5 million trillion trillion pounds, or 10 billion trillion trillion carats. To date, the largest diamond on Earth has been the 530-carat Star of Africa, cut from a 3,100-carat diamond discovered in 1905.

Finding a crystalline star can be considered a breakthrough, but calling it a diamond may still be wishful thinking.

“Travis Metcalfe [the Harvard researcher who co-authored the journal article] and his co-workers indeed showed that BPM37093 is crystalline, but we can’t distinguish between crystalline carbon or oxygen yet, much to my wife’s dismay,” Kawaler said. “So, while it may be a huge carbon crystal, it may also be a huge oxygen crystal – or one giant impurity!”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Iowa State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Iowa State University. "Whole Earth Telescope Confirms Gem Of A Star." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040223075034.htm>.
Iowa State University. (2004, February 23). Whole Earth Telescope Confirms Gem Of A Star. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040223075034.htm
Iowa State University. "Whole Earth Telescope Confirms Gem Of A Star." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040223075034.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins