Update on Alan Vasquez Soto’s Research

Alan Vasquez Soto (a) has spent his SuRPS time focusing on CS 1246, a pulsating star about 600 light-years from Earth. Similar to a vibrating guitar string, this star ‘pulses’ once every six minutes, which results in a periodic change in its luminosity. Alan has been using the SKYNET web interface (b) to monitor CS 1246 using several several robotic telescopes (c) on Cerro Tololo in the Chilean Andes. Each night, he obtains 200-400 images of the star (d) and analyzes them with his own software to produce a “light curve” (e; plot of brightness vs. time). Another piece of code he wrote is used to determine the period, amplitude, and phase of the pulsations on any given night.

Alan has confirmed what we suspected over a year go: the pulsations of CS 1246 are dying off. Even though these types of stars evolve over hundreds of *millions* of years, our data imply they can change their structure significantly in just a few decades. Over the next week, Alan will complete his analysis and try to come up with several hypotheses that might explain what happened to the pulsations.