Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Stars Can Be Used as 'Probes' for Galactic Archaeology

How Stars Can Be Used as 'Probes' for Galactic ArchaeologyArchaeologists sort through the artifacts and remnants of ancient societies to understand the history of human culture. Galactic archaeologists do more or less the same thing, but on a cosmic scale—they sift through the stellar fossil record to unravel the mysteries of our galaxy’s lifetime.

Now, scientists with the Str√∂mgren survey for Asteroseismology and Galactic Archaeology (SAGA) have developed a more precise way of determining the ages of stars, which heretofore has been lacking. It’s an insight that will help astronomers pinpoint exactly when big events happened in the Milky Way.

Thanks to space-based missions like NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Convection, Rotation, and Planetary Transits mission (CoRoT), astronomers have gathered oscillation frequency data on hundreds of main sequence stars and thousands of giant stars. And a team led by Dr. Luca Casagrande from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics is putting this wealth of information to good by combining it with classical stellar data.

According to the team's latest work, to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, asteroseismologic and classic stellar data is combined to assess a stripe of the Kepler field. The result is a new diagnostic tool that should tell astronomers more detailed information about nearby stars.
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