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It is now possible to reveal the age of the massive star of the Southern Cross



It is now possible to reveal the age of the massive star of the Southern Cross


A team from all parts of the world has unlocked for the first time the internal structure of the massive star of the Southern Cross, famous for being printed on many flags such as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, etc. Using a new approach, the astronomers found that this star is 14.5 times larger than the sunwith just 11 million years making it the heaviest star of any given age.

The results of this study will lead to new details on how stars live and die and how they can influence the chemical evolution of the Galaxy. To determine the age and mass of this star, the researchers have combined asteroseismologyi.e. the study of the regular movements of a star, with polarimetrythe measurement of the orientation of light waves.

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Southern Cross, a new method can detect its age

The first it is based on seismic waves inside the star, producing changes in its light. Trying to analyze the interior of heavy stars has always been difficult to deal with. In the past it was believed that polarimetry could analyze from the inside the massive star, but so far this has not been possible. To have complete success the team has achieved an extremely precise polarimeter.

This study concerning the Southern Cross combines 3 different types of light measurements. Analyzing the three long-term data types together allowed us to identify the dominant modality geometries of this project. This paved the way for the weighting and star age dating using seismic methods.

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Precisely for this reason the study opens a new path to the asteroseismology of bright and large stars. Although these stars are the most productive chemical factories in our galaxy, they are so far the least analyzed asteroseismicallygiven the degree of difficulty of such studies.

Picture of Felix Mittermeier from Pexels