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Science
Published: Aug 30, 2010
Researchers Listen To 'Ringing' Star
by Staff

A distant star U.S. scientists say is "ringing like a bell" could provide clues to other stars that might have planets that might be able to host life.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., with colleagues in France and Spain, studied a star known as HD49933, located 100 light years from Earth in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn, an NCAR release said Thursday.

The team examined the star's acoustic fluctuations, using a technique called "stellar seismology" that measured "starspots," areas of intense magnetic energy similar to the sun's sunspots.

"Essentially, the star is ringing like a bell," NCAR scientist Travis Metcalfe, a co-author of the new study, says. "As it moves through its starspot cycle, the tone and volume of the ringing changes in a very specific pattern, moving to higher tones with lower volume at the peak of its magnetic cycle."

"We've discovered a magnetic activity cycle in this star, similar to what we see with the Sun," co-author Savita Mathur says. "This technique of listening to the stars will allow us to examine potentially hundreds of stars."

The team says it hopes to assess the potential for other stars in our galaxy to host planets, including some perhaps capable of sustaining life.

"Understanding the activity of stars harboring planets is necessary because magnetic conditions on the star's surface could influence the habitable zone, where life could develop," lead author Rafael Garcia of France's Center for Nuclear Studies of Saclay says. (c) UPI

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