Stellar pulsation: an overview

TitleStellar pulsation: an overview
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsKurtz, D. W.
JournalCommunications in Asteroseismology
Date PublishedJan

Twenty-five hundred years ago the Pythagorean Brotherhood invented the idea of the Music of the Spheres. That idea languished in scientific thought from the time of Kepler 400 years ago, until the 1970s when real sounds were found and recognised in the sun and stars. Stars pulsate both with sound waves in pressure modes and in gravity modes with buoyancy as the restoring force. Those pulsations allow us literally to see inside the stars to know their interiors. Oscillations in 1-D and 2-D are introduced here, leading to 3-D descriptions of the changing shapes of pulsating star. Some properties of pressure modes and gravity modes are explained, and a simple explanation of asteroseismology is given. Some selected cases illustrate amazing discoveries from our new ability to see inside the stars.