DEC 02, 2016 8:40 AM PST

Astronomers Find the Roundest Natural Object in the Universe to Date

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s not exactly easy to find perfectly round spatial bodies anywhere in our universe, and that has to do with the fact that most objects are just deformed from their creation and the weathering of collisions and because physics acts on objects that spin.
 
In the case of stars, they’re not perfectly round. Just about all of them are longer across their equator than they are from pole to pole; in the case of our Sun, the star is about 6 miles longer across the equator than it is from pole to pole.
 

The Sun is not perfectly round, but a new star has a much rounder body than our Sun.

  Image Credit: Mark A. Garlick

Why does this oblateness happen? It turns out that centrifugal force is caused by the object rotating in free space. This causes the object to sling matter away from the center as the object orbits. In addition, the star’s magnetic field also plays a role in its shape.
 
With that being the case, you’re automatically forced into thinking every star in the universe has different centrifugal force properties due to the fact that they all spin at different rates, and so these different stars would have to have different aspect ratios. And you’d be right.
 
Astronomers led by Laurent Gizon from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Solar System research have used a technique called asteroseismology to determine that a star some 5,000 light years away is the roundest star found in the universe yet.
 
The findings have been published in the journal Science Advances.
 


What makes this star, KIC 11145123, so special is that it’s as close to perfectly round as astronomers have ever seen. This is made possible by its uniquely slow rotation rate of about 100 days, which is approximately three times slower than that of our Sun.

In terms of its oblateness, KIC 11145123 is just 4 miles wider across its equator than its poles, which is an unprecedentedly small distance when you’re talking about a star that’s millions of miles across in diameter.  
 
Equipment aboard the Kepler space observatory made this research possible, and astronomers plan to continue using asteroseismology to study additional stars throughout the universe to study their roundness.
 
It should be interesting to see if we will find more stars in the universe that are rounder than our Sun is, and more importantly, if any of them have a more perfect roundness than KIC 11145123.
 
Source: Engadget

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 29, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 29, 2019
How Large Solar Storms Can Impact Earth's Power Grid
The Sun is a powerful ball of energy, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that it can sometimes become unstable. Over time, the...
OCT 31, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 31, 2019
Neutron Star Merger Fused Atomic Nuclei, Spilled Out Heavy Element
It is safe to say that we live in a world of hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements in the periodic table. Born minutes after the Big Bang, the two mak...
NOV 05, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 05, 2019
New Technologies Are Headed for the International Space Station
Space is hard, and for that reason, researchers are always trying to come up with new ways to make it easier. One of the best places for new technologies t...
DEC 18, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 18, 2019
Physics in Peril? (Part II) - Lost in the "Darkness"
Not many share the same antagonistic view with Sabine Hossenfelder, the physicist who associates the current awkward state of physical science with theoret...
DEC 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 19, 2019
The Science Behind Christmas
The holiday season is upon us, and to wrap-up the year and get you into the holiday spirit, we are dedicating the last infographic to Christmas. After all, what's a better way to celebrate...
JAN 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 06, 2020
Physics in Peril? (Part III) - A Problem at A Cosmic Scale
It is safe to say that astrophysicist Edwin Hubble redefined the universe as we knew back in the early 20th century.  Not only did he found irrefutabl...
Loading Comments...