A star astronomers have used as a benchmark to measure other stars’ brightness for thousands of years may be more than 200 million years older than previously thought.
Researchers estimated the age of the star—called Vega—by precisely measuring its spin speed with a tool developed by John Monnier, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan.
The tool boosts resolution so astronomers can zoom in to observe the shape and surface characteristics of stars that would otherwise look like mere points even through the most powerful telescopes. By tracking stars’ surface characteristics, scientists can calculate how fast they rotate and deduce their inner workings.
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Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona