Sunquakes and starquakes: Astronomy conference at Yale in July 2004

06/25/04

New Haven, Conn. – The Astronomy Department at Yale University will host 125 astronomers from the USA and 18 countries abroad at its largest conference in nearly three decades, from July 12 to July 16, 2004.

The meeting, "Helio- and Asteroseismology: Towards a Golden Future," will focus on results from "sunquake" and "starquake" data obtained since the last meeting of this series, held in October 2002 at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California. Organization of the conference is being led by associate professor Sarbani Basu. Abstracts and a program of the conference can be viewed at http://www.astro.yale.edu/sogo04 .

Helioseismology is the study of the Sun by observing "sunquakes." The Sun quakes, or oscillates, constantly and data from these quakes is giving scientists access to the interior of the Sun.

Oscillations of the Sun were first observed in the mid-1960s and were thought to be confined to the Sun's atmosphere. In the mid-1970s the true nature of the oscillations was revealed; the oscillations involve the entire Sun, not just its atmosphere.

Astronomers found that they could use data from the quakes to get high precision measurements of the internal structure of the Sun and of the dynamics of solar rotation. Currently, helioseismologists are trying to explain the 11-year solar magnetic cycle and the changes that occur in the Sun through the cycle.

Our knowledge of the Sun's interior has expanded tremendously in the past decade because of helioseismic data from instruments on the spacecraft SOHO (SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory; http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/ ), and ground-based networks including GONG (Global Oscillations Network Group: http://gong.nso.edu/)

Asteroseismology is the study of stars, other than the Sun, by observing their quakes. In the past, ground-based observations detected quakes in a special type of stars –variable stars. However, observations of oscillations on other Sun-like stars have only been made in the past few years.

Ground-based measurements have effectively obtained asteroseismic data of stellar frequencies, and the successful launch of the Canadian space-craft MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars; http://www.astro.ubc.ca/MOST/ ), should provide new information to test theories of stellar structure and evolution.

Sponsorship for the conference is from Yale, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Source: Eurekalert & others

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