Dr. Michael Reed can distinctly remember when he became interested in the universe and its contents: the moon landings in the summer of 1969.
“I remember those very clearly, mostly for how boring they were,” said Reed, professor of astronomy at Missouri State University.
Now, with funding through NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Reed is studying how stars vibrate with data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. This space telescope orbits the sun and in its original mission, observed one set of stars, taking a picture every minute, for four years. Now in its extended mission it looks at a different set of stars every 90 days, providing the most accurate data ever obtained with accuracies down to one part in a million.
Studying the stars
Reed and his team analyze these images to see the stars’ vibrations and discover what is going on inside.
“Imagine you’re listing to an orchestra,” said Reed. “Every instrument has its own set of sounds, and stars are just like that. They have a whole bunch of variations within them, and each of those variations tells you something about a different region inside of the star.”
Reed then classifies the different vibrations, or instruments, coming from the star. But how does learning about these vibrations help us here on Earth?
“These are stars that our sun will be like in another five billion years,” said Reed. “By understanding these stars, we can understand what’s going to happen to our solar system and the environment of our solar neighborhood in the far future.”
Learn more about Reed’s research on Mind’s Eye.
For more information, contact Reed at 417-836-4782.