Listening to the music of the oldest stars.

Sci-News turns an ear to the heavens to learn about the oldest stars in the Milky Way – by listening to their acoustic oscillations:

The team, led by Dr. Andrea Miglio from the University of Birmingham, has detected the resonant acoustic oscillations of eight ancient stars in the spectacular globular cluster Messier 4.

“Seven of the stars are on the red-giant branch; the eighth is on the red horizontal branch,” the scientists said.

Messier 4 is one of the oldest known star clusters in the Galaxy, some 13 billion years old.

Using data from the NASA Kepler/K2 mission, Dr. Miglio and co-authors have studied the resonant oscillations of the Messier 4 stars using a technique called asteroseismology.

“The oscillations are beyond the normal human hearing range, but here they have been transformed into something audible,” the scientists said.

These oscillations lead to miniscule changes or pulses in brightness, and are caused by sound trapped inside the stars. By measuring the tones in this ‘stellar music’, it is possible to determine the mass and age of individual stars.

This discovery opens the door to using asteroseismology to study the very early history of our Galaxy.

“We were thrilled to be able to listen to some of the stellar relics of the early Universe,” said Dr. Miglio, first author on a paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society this week.

There’s a 5-second sample of the stellar frequency (converted to audible sound) at the link.