Kepler’s Heartbeat Stars: When Binary Stars Get Funky


Tuesday, September 29 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Susan Mullally
SETI Institute

Note: This talk will be at NASA Ames Research Center: Building 152

Because of the continuous, high-precision photometry available from the Kepler spacecraft, the Kepler team discovered a type of eccentric binary star named heartbeat stars. In these systems, the two stars come close enough to each other to cause large, periodic changes in the tidal deformation and mutual irradiation of the stars. Additionally, these tidal forces are known to cause the stars in some of these systems to continually ‘ring’ at shorter periods. Currently, we have discovered more than 150 of these in the Kepler data and have been taking extensive follow-up spectroscopy to model andunderstand these systems. 

Dr. Mullally will present an overview of these systems and discuss how these systems are allowing us to explore the physics of stellar tidal dissipation.


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