A Northwestern University-led team of researchers, including postdoctoral fellow Evan Anders, developed the first 3D simulations of energy rippling from a massive star’s core to its outer surface. Using these new models, the researchers determined, for the first time, how much stars should innately twinkle.
Depending on how large or bright a massive star is, its convection produces waves corresponding to different sounds. Waves emerging from the core of a large star, for example, make sounds like a warped ray gun, blasting through an alien landscape. But the star alters these sounds as the waves reach the star’s surface. For a large star, the ray gun-like pulses shift into a low echo reverberating through an empty room. Waves at the surface of a medium-sized star, on the other hand, conjure images of a persistent hum through a windswept terrain. And surface waves on a small star sound like a plaintive alert from a weather siren.
Next, Anders and his team passed songs through different stars to listen to how the stars change the songs. They passed a short audio clip from “Jupiter” (a movement from “The Planets” orchestral suite by composer Gustav Holst) and from “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (above) through three sizes of massive stars.
“We were curious how a song would sound if heard as propagated through a star,” Anders said. “The stars change the music and, correspondingly, change how the waves would look if we saw them as twinkling on the star’s surface.”
Credit: Northwestern University