Music of the Stars

BiSON Kepler Kepler Sutherland Sun Modes Modes

BiSON Worldwide Observatories

Stars are like Musical Instruments

NASA Kepler Spacecraft

BiSON Solar Observatory in Sutherland

The Sun: a star!

Stars experience many types of oscillation

Stars experience many types of oscillation



Did you know that the Sun rings just like a musical instrument?



At Thinktank, you have been listening to a sound composition by Caroline Devine that used real data of the "music of the Sun". Other stars in the night sky also ring, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "twinkle, twinkle little star".

Vibration

The Sun makes sound naturally inside. The sound is trapped and it makes the sun resonate, like an oboe or a trumpet. Since the Sun is a huge ball of gas, it pulses gently in and out. We call these gentle pulsations "solar oscillations".

Some oscillations involve the whole interior of the Sun. They cause the Sun to expand and contract by only a few tens of metres! This is a tiny fraction of the Sun's size - it has a radius of about 700,000 kilometres.

The image to the right is a simulation of a two-dimensional oscillation on the surface of a drum. Stars experience much more complicated three-dimensional modes of oscillation!




The Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network

BiSON Network

Scientists at the University of Birmingham run a global network of telescopes that observe oscillations of the Sun around the clock. Caroline used data from BiSON in her composition.

Have a look at the BiSON web page to find out more about the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network. You can also look at live real-time images, data, and telemetry from the BiSON solar telescope domes.

If you'd like to learn more about helioseismology, have a look at our outreach pages.