"Hubble Ultra Deep Field" by NASA and the European Space Agency / Public Domain

For The First Time, Astronomers Detect Regular Pulses Coming From Chaotic Stars

May 15, 2020

By Michelle Starr

A class of stars that jangled out discordant frequencies across the galaxy have just been untangled. Using data collected by NASA’s TESS space telescope, astronomers have finally found a rhythm in the pulsations of strange, young stars.

They’re called delta Scuti variable stars, and they rotate so rapidly that the stars flatten slightly, scrambling their pulsation patterns and producing what seems to be chaos.

From that chaos, we now have order: regular, high-frequency pulsation modes identified in 60 delta Scuti stars of intermediate mass, ranging between 1.5 and 2.5 times the mass of the Sun.

“Delta Scuti stars clearly pulsate in interesting ways, but the patterns of those pulsations have so far defied understanding,” said astronomer Tim Bedding of the University of Sydney in Australia.

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