TELESCOPE or stethoscope? While planet-hunting, the Kepler space mission has stumbled upon binary stars emitting pulses.
KOI-54 was identified in January. Its brightness pulses every 42 days, when its two stars pass especially close to one another and the gravity of each deforms the other. The sides of the stars bulge, increasing the surface area observed by the Kepler telescope and contributing to the brightness spike.
Although KOI-54 is some 1000 light years away from Earth, the Kepler telescope has now begun to pick up even smaller pulses in its brightness, beating 90 times faster than the main pulse.
Jim Fuller and Dong Lai of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told the Kepler Science Conference at Moffett Field, California, that these micro-oscillations may bring more data on each star’s internal structure.
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