Smallest starquake discovered in new study

An orange dwarf star has produced the smallest 'stellar earthquakes' ever recorded, measured by an international team of scientists.

Named Epsilon Indi, the star is the smallest and coolest dwarf star ever observed with „stellar earthquakes” — Sun-like oscillations — similar to those exhibited by the Sun. These oscillations provide glimpses of galactic interiors—just as earthquakes tell us about Earth's interior—and are important sources of information about a star's makeup.

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

Earthquakes were detected using a technique called asteroseismology, which measures oscillations in stars. Using Espresso spectrograph, mounted at the European Southern Observatory (That) very large telescope (VLT), the team was able to record oscillations with unprecedented precision.

Lead author Thiago Campante of the University of Porto's Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences said: „The extremely precise level of these observations is a great technical achievement. Importantly, this finding strongly demonstrates that precise astrophysics can cool dwarfs. The surface temperature is 4200 degrees Celsius, 1000 degrees lower than the Sun's surface. cooler, effectively opening up a new domain in observational astrophysics.”

Orange dwarf stars have recently been the focus of the search for habitable planets and extraterrestrial life. Professor Phil Chaplin, head of the School of Physics and 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. The planet-finding technique – called the transit method – we get the size of the planet relative to the size of the star; If we don't measure it right, the same applies to any small planet we have. Discovered.” Detecting oscillations can help us understand and reduce these anomalies and improve theoretical models of stars.

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Detecting starquakes in Epsilon Indi will inform plans for upcoming European Space Agency deployments (ESA) Plato It is planned to launch in 2026 to detect the oscillations of many more orange dwarfs. PLATO will also look for planets around these stars. Birmingham is responsible for the design and delivery of much of the asteroseismology pipeline for Plato, the results of which will be used by thousands of researchers around the world.

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