Release Images

Release No.: 2011-15
For Release: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 6:00am

How to Learn a Star's True Age

NGC 6811

Using the unique capabilities of NASA's Kepler space telescope, Soren Meibom (CfA) and his collaborators measured the rotation rates for stars in a 1-billion-year-old cluster called NGC 6811. They found rotation periods ranging from 1 to 11 days (with hotter, more massive stars spinning faster), compared to the 30-day spin rate of our Sun. More importantly, they found a strong relationship between stellar mass and rotation rate, with little scatter. This result confirms that gyrochronology is a promising new method to learn the ages of isolated stars.

Anthony Ayiomamitis

hypothetical exoplanet

Artist's conception of a hypothetical exoplanet. Gyrochronology is a promising new method to learn the ages of isolated stars, including all stars known to have planets.

David A. Aguilar (CfA)