Asteroseismology

A Neptunian mirror for solar oscillations

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.491-f

The Kepler satellite

PHOTO: NASA AMES/JPL-CALTECH/T PYLE

The Sun's brightness varies by a tiny amount because of seismic oscillations. The Kepler satellite has detected the same process on other Sun-like stars, which can be used to determine their mass and radius. Gaulme et al. examined Kepler observations of Neptune, which reflects sunlight from its clouds, faintly enough not to saturate Kepler's detectors. They detected the Sun's oscillations, but these implied a mass and radius that were both too high. Observations from other facilities show that this is because the Sun was in an unusually active period. Scaling relations for other stars may have underestimated the systematic uncertainty in determining mass and radius.

Astrophys. J. 833, L13 (2016).

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