Unlocking the secrets of the stars

Sunday, 09 July, 2000

The age of the universe will be more accurately known as a result of an Australian scientific initiative.

The international telescope project MONS (Measuring Oscillations in Nearby Stars) involves University of Sydney astronomers and experts from Canberra-based company AUSPACE. As a result, Australia's first optical space telescope will be launched on a Danish satellite.

Rather than taking pictures, the telescope measures the frequencies at which stars pulsate. By recording the sound waves, or the pulsations of hydrogen burning within stars, astronomers will be able to accurately measure the age of the stars, then calculate the age of the universe.

While the twinkling of stars may be great for lovers and poets, it is frustrating for astronomers. So, by orbiting above the Earth's atmosphere, the telescope will make precise measurements of these stellar pulsations.

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