Another day, another astronomical discovery. This seems to be the right pattern, as there’s no telling how many wonders science will be revealing about our Universe in the near future. Not to mention the far future, as if we look back a century ago, humanity didn’t even know that there are many other galaxies in the Universe besides our own Milky Way.
The Delta Scuti variable stars are the stars of the show today. They rotate so rapidly that they flatten slightly, producing some chaotic shapes. Regular and high-frequency pulsation modes were identified in 60 delta Scuti stars of intermediate masses. Astronomers had been using data collected by NASA’s TESS space telescope.
The pulsations are defying human comprehension
Tim Bedding, an astronomer from the University of Sydney in Australia details for us what the discovery means:
Delta Scuti stars clearly pulsate in interesting ways, but the patterns of those pulsations have so far defied understanding,
To use a musical analogy, many stars pulsate along simple chords, but delta Scuti stars are complex, with notes that seem to be jumbled. TESS has shown us that’s not true for all of them.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) belongs to NASA’s Explorers program. The telescope was created to search for exoplanets using the transit method in an area much larger than the one covered by the Kepler mission. TESS was launched about two years ago atop a Falcon 9 rocket and it was placed into a highly elliptical orbit around the Earth.
For its primary mission that lasted two years, TESS was expected to find over 20,000 transiting exoplanets. But as of 10 May 2020, TESS has identified only1835 candidate exoplanets, and 46 have been confirmed so far.
But surely there are plenty of places to look for exoplanets in the Universe, and NASA’s future missions will discover much more interesting planets beyond our Solar System.