450 Years of  Pulsating Stars: From Fabricius to the Kepler Spacecraft

Dr. Bradley Carroll
Department of Physics
Weber State University


This year marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of David Fabricius, who first observed a pulsating star.  Since Fabricius, pulsating stars have played a central role in astronomy.  Their rhythmic brightening gives astronomers a standard candle used to measure distances in the universe.  Understanding the physical mechanism of these celestial heat engines allows a detailed comparison of numerical models with exquisite observations.  Helioseismology has determined the structure of the Sun to better than one percent, and asteroseismology is now enlarging our understanding of other stars.  After a review of the history and physics of stellar pulsation, some remarkable results from the Kepler mission will be described.

450 Years of  Pulsating Stars: From Fabricius to the Kepler Spacecraft