Tiniest ‘starquake’ ever detected | ScienceDaily | Science & Technology

An orange dwarf star has yielded the tiniest ‘starquakes’ ever recorded, measured by an international team of scientists.

Named Epsilon Indi, the star is the smallest and coolest dwarf star yet observed with solar-like oscillations — “starquakes” like those shown by the Sun. These oscillations provide indirect glimpses of stellar interiors — just as earthquakes tell us about Earth’s interior — and so are important sources of information about the makeup of the star.

The measurements were taken by an international team, led by the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, and including researchers from the University of Birmingham. The study is published in Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.

The quakes were detected using a technique dubbed asteroseismology, which measures oscillations in stars. Using the ESPRESSO spectrograph, mounted at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), the team was able to record the oscillations with unprecedented precision.

Lead author Tiago Campante, of the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of Porto, said: “The extreme precision level of these observations is an outstanding technological achievement. Importantly, this detection conclusively shows that precise asteroseismology is possible down to cool dwarfs with surface temperatures as low as 4200 degrees Celsius, about 1000 degrees cooler than the Sun’s surface, effectively opening up a new domain in observational astrophysics.”

Orange dwarf stars have recently become a focus in the search for habitable planets and extraterrestrial life. Professor Bill Chaplin, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy at Birmingham, and a member of the team, said: “The mismatch between the predicted and observed sizes of these stars has implications for finding planets around them. If we use the most successful planet-finding technique — the so-called transit method — we get the size of the planet relative to the size…

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