Scientists have spotted a very rare pulsating star some 7,000 light years away using archived data procured by ROTSE-I.
The star is expanding and contracting in a unique pattern in three different directions. Such pulsating stars are characterised by varying brightness over time. The latest star is one of only seven known stars of its kind in our Milky Way galaxy.
According to the team that found the star, our galaxy The Milky Way has more than 100 billion stars, but just over 400,900 are catalogued as variable stars. Of these a mere seven stars are the rare intrinsic variable star called a Triple Mode ‘high amplitude delta Scuti’ (HADS).
The star does not yet have a common name, only an official designation based on the telescope that recorded it and its celestial coordinates.
Researchers discovered the variable star by analysing light curve shape, a key identifier of star type. Light curves were created from archived data procured by ROTSE-I during multiple nights in September 2000. The telescope generates images of optical light from electrical signals based on the intensity of the source. Data representing light intensity versus time is plotted on a scale to create the light curves.
Plano Senior High School student Derek Hornung first discovered the object in the ROTSE-I data and prepared the initial light curves.
It became even more challenging to determine the specific kind of variable star. Eric Guzman, a physics graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas, solved the puzzle, identifying the star as pulsating.