Saturday, September 13, 2014

Science Sunday: Drop That Stellar Beat – The Kappa Mechanism

One of the most fascinating things to me in our Universe is the fact that stars, these ridiculously massive, hot, bright objects that provide the necessary energy for existence as we know it, are not at all static objects. We see our own Sun in the sky, and we really only see one small bright yellow disc. Look a little closer (never look directly at the Sun!), and you see its surface changing every 11 years. Sunspots grow and disappear, prominences arc wildly over its surface, flares spew out light, energy, and a cornucopia of charged particles into space, etc. And ours is just a run-of-the-mill Main Sequence star! What I want to talk about here is something that exhibits the dynamic side of evolved versions of stars like ours: stellar pulsation.