Astronomers Are Intrigued By Certain Stars That Are “Glitching”


Some stars in our universe are glitching!

These are called stellar “glitches” which are huge systemic variations that happen in the inner body of red giants. Astronomers carried out a thorough observation and uncovered more of these “glitches” than anticipated.

Earlier, glitching was witnessed but it was attributed to the star’s rotation. However, these glitches, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, affect much more, like a star’s oscillations and the behavior of passing sound waves.

A specific type of red giant called “red clumps” possess the same glow, enabling astronomers to use them as “standard candles.” This helps them determine their distance, and, hence, that of their surrounding galaxies, kind of like galactic waypoints. In other words, they help us learn more about the universe.

“By analyzing these variations, we can use them to obtain not only the global parameters of the star but also information on the precise structure of those objects,” said study lead author Mathieu Vrard in a press release.

Astronomers took a sample of 359 red giants. Out of which, 24 were discovered to have demonstrated indications of glitching at some point in their lifetime. This makes around seven percent which is an absolutely gigantic proportion on a cosmic scale.

It is yet to be revealed why such glitches happen. There are two possible theories floating around. One suggests that glitches are a normal part of a star’s evolution, but most that occur are too small to notice.

However, Vrard’s findings don’t support this theory, and suggest that glitches are “temporarily smoothed out by some unknown physical process that leads to intermittent changes in the structure of the core,” the study reads.


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