Studying Pulsating Variable Stars with Telescopes from 5-Inches to 8-Meters

Dr. Eric Hintz
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University

Abstract: Pulsating variable stars provide a lot of valuable astrophysical information.  They are a fundamental rung of the distance ladder that we use to scale the entire Universe.  Their pulsations provide us with a way to 'see' past their photospheres to examine their internal structure. Some people would have you believe that our understanding of stars is complete and that the physics that describes them is a solved problem.  However, this is not the case.  Over the last few years my group has found a number of stars which show unexpected changes and cause us to question some of our previous assumptions.  Is pulsation really a solved problem?  My students are currently using an array of smaller robotic telescopes to monitor a large sample of pulsating stars to watch for previously unknown changes.  I'm also preparing for the installation of the SCORPIO camera on the Gemini South 8-m telescope.  In this presentation we will explore how telescopes over this wide range of sizes can be used to explore the true nature of pulsating stars.