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Roundest Object in Universe: Distant Star Rounder Than Earth, Sun

Image: Roundest Object in Universe: Distant Star Rounder Than Earth, Sun

The star Kepler 11145123 is the roundest natural object ever measured in the universe. Stellar oscillations imply a difference in radius between the equator and the poles of only 3 km. This star is significantly more round than the sun. (© Laurent Gizon et al. and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany/Illustration by Mark A. Garlick)

By    |   Thursday, 17 Nov 2016 05:06 PM

Scientists in Germany have identified the star Kepler 11145123 as the roundest known object in the universe, rounder than both the sun and Earth. The star is 5,000 light-years away from Earth.

The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research reported its findings Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Kepler 11145123 is not a perfect sphere, but is only 4 miles wider at the equator than at the poles even though it is more than twice as big as Earth’s sun.

In contrast, the sun is 6 miles wider at the equator, and Earth is 13 miles wider. The centrifugal force of rotation is thought to slightly flatten stars and planets, with those that rotate faster having a greater flattening effect. Kepler 11145123 rotates much more slowly than the sun and Earth, according to UPI.

Even so, scientists thought the roundness was closer to perfect than its speed of rotation would suggest. Astronomers have theorized a low-latitude magnetic field might play a role in keeping the star more round. Because of these observations, scientists now believe that radii differences might be a way to study magnetism on distant stars.

“We intend to apply this method to other stars observed by Kepler and the upcoming space missions TESS and PLATO,” said lead study author Laurent Gizon on the Institute website. “It will be particularly interesting to see how faster rotation and a stronger magnetic field can change a star’s shape. An important theoretical field in astrophysics has now become observational.”

Astronomers studied the pulsing luminosity of the star for four years to make their findings about the roundest object in the universe.

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Scientists in Germany have identified the star Kepler 11145123 as the roundest known object in the universe, rounder than both the sun and Earth. The star is 5,000 light-years away from Earth.
roundest, object, universe, star
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2016-06-17
Thursday, 17 Nov 2016 05:06 PM
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