Astronomers discover new ways to calculate gravity pull on ‘distant stars’ surface

A new method has been found out to measure the pull of gravity on the surface of distant stars. For distant stars with planets orbiting them, this information is key in determining whether any of those planets can harbour life.

The research has been led by University of Vienna’s Thomas Kallinger and has involved UBC Professor Jaymie Matthews as well as astronomers from Germany, France and Australia.

Knowing the surface gravity of a star means essentially knowing how much you would weigh on that star.

The new method allows scientists to measure surface gravity with an accuracy of about 4%, for stars too distant and too faint to apply current techniques.

The new technique called the autocorrelation function timescale technique, or timescale technique for short, uses subtle variations in the brightness of distant stars recorded by satellites like Canada’s MOST and NASA’s Kepler missions.

Future space satellites will hunt for planets in the ‘Goldilocks Zones’ of their stars. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right for liquid water oceans and maybe life.

The study is published in the Journal Science Advances.