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Still Waters

Asteroseismologists confirm older stars rotate faster than expected

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Still Waters

All stars, like the Sun, are born spinning. As they grow older, their spin slows down due to magnetic winds in a process called 'magnetic braking'. Research published in 2016 by scientists at Carnegie Observatories delivered the first hints that stars at a similar stage of life as the Sun were spinning faster than magnetic braking theories predicted. The results from this study were based on a method in which scientists pinpoint dark spots on the surface of stars and track them as they move with the stars' spin. While the method has proven robust for measuring spin in younger stars, however, older stars have fewer star spots, which has made the effects of this "weakened" magnetic braking on these stars hard to confirm.

In a new study, published in Nature Astronomy, researchers at the University of Birmingham used a different approach to confirm that older stars do, in fact, appear to rotate faster than expected.



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