Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency reveals a fascinating discovery from Gaia, a space observatory launched in 2013. The researchers have discovered that Gaia is capable of detecting starquakes – tiny motions on the surface of stars that change their shape. This is unexpected, considering that detecting starquakes is not something that Gaia was built for.
“Previously, Gaia already found radial oscillations that cause stars to swell and shrink periodically, while keeping their spherical shape. But Gaia has now also spotted other vibrations that are more like large-scale tsunamis. These nonradial oscillations change the global shape of a star and are therefore harder to detect,” says ESA.
“Nonradial oscillation modes cause a star’s surface to move while it rotates, as shown in the animation. Dark patches are slightly cooler than bright patches, giving rise to periodic changes in the brightness of the star. The frequency of the rotating and pulsating stars was increased 8.6 million times to shift them into the audible range of humans.”
Video/ Image Credit: ESA