I read an interesting article in the January 2009 Scientific American on the CoRoT space telescope. CoRoT is a space mission approved by the French Space Agency CNES, with a participation of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Spain, ESA and ESTEC. The mission is to look for planets around stars as well as stellar ripples on the surface of stars, somewhat like we already study on our Sun. This telescope has already discovered some exoplanets, one about 20-times the size of Jupiter. What I find amazing is that stellar seismology data can be gathered on stars light years away. This will allow us to probe the interiors of other stars and refine our models of how stars fundamentally work.
When looking at stars, COROT is able to detect ‘starquakes’, acoustical waves generated deep inside a star that send ripples across a star’s surface, altering its brightness. The exact nature of the ripples can allow astronomers to calculate the star’s mass, age and even chemical composition.