FGCU’s Buzasi Continues Pioneering Work in Unique Star Study

Derek Buzasi, eminent Whitaker scholar of the FGCU.

Florida Gulf Coast University star man Derek Buzasi is in the news again. The researcher known for his ability to measure stars has revealed the mass and age of Mimosa – a massive blue star that is featured on the flags of several nations, including Australia. He is part of an international team of researchers studying this phenomenon.

According to a statement, researchers determined that Mimosa, also known as Beta Crucis, is “14.5 times more massive than the sun and as young as 11 million years old, making it the oldest star in the world. heavy with a precise age determined by asteroseismology “.

– the study of stars using sound waves.

“Think of oscillations as sound waves,” Prof. Buzasi says of asteroseismology. “It’s like listening to a bell with instruments and trying to use that information, working backwards, to understand how the bell is made. This is really what we do.

The star Mimosa is part of the constellation Southern Cross, which in summer rises just above the southern horizon as viewed from southern Florida. Observations made for this research, led by Daniel Cotton of the Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy in California, come from several sources. Not only did the data come from WIRE and TESS, but also from observatories in Chile and Australia.

The light of the star Beta Crucis (Mimosa) passes through the plane of the ring A in the center of this image of a stellar occultation.  COURTESY PHOTO

The light of the star Beta Crucis (Mimosa) passes through the plane of the ring A in the center of this image of a stellar occultation. COURTESY PHOTO

“The keys to the success of this research were to combine the information from the TESS satellite with many observations made at the same time from the ground using a new instrument that Daniel and his team built. TESS tells us the notes the star sings and HIPPI-2 tells us how the shape of the star is changing, ”Professor Buzasi said. “Stars like Mimosa explode into supernovae and become black holes, so they are major players in the evolution of our galaxy.”

A prominent Whitaker researcher, Professor Buzasi is considered a pioneer of asteroseismology. Using the surviving instruments of NASA’s WIRE satellite mission – the Wide-Field Infrared Explorer – failed in 1999, the future professor of astronomy FGCU was the first scientist to practice asteroseismology from space. His efforts have enabled WIRE to continue to contribute to the understanding of the stars. It also led to even more important work for FGCU Professor Buzasi decades later.

In the fall of 2018, Professor Buzasi was in Cape Canaveral to attend the launch of TESS, the satellite for monitoring exoplanets in transit. As part of the mission’s guest investigator program, Professor Buzasi and his students were able to collect new data on the stars he studied in 1999. Mimosa was among his celestial selections every time.

New research from Buzasi and the team is published in Nature Astronomy on December 6, 2021. To read the research, visit dx.doi.org/10.1038/ s41550-021-01531-9. ??

Maria D. Ervin