Kepler’s Heartbeat Stars: When Binary Stars Get Funky

by · Aug 16, 2016 · 421 views ·

Using the continuous, high-precision photometry available from the Kepler spacecraft, the Kepler team discovered a type of eccentric binary star named heartbeat stars. In these systems, the two stars come close enough to each other to cause large, periodic changes in the tidal deformation and mutual irradiation of the stars. Additionally, these tidal forces are known to cause the stars in some of these systems to continually ‘ring’ at shorter periods. Currently, we have discovered more than 150 of these in the Kepler data and have been taking extensive follow-up spectroscopy to model and understand these systems.

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