AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 134 A Suitcase Full of Astrophysics: The First Year of Ultraprecise Photometry from the MOST Space Mission
Invited, Thursday, January 13, 2005, 8:30-9:20am, Town and Country

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[134.01] A suitcase full of astrophysics: The first year of ultraprecise photometry from the MOST space mission

J. M. Matthews (University of British Columbia)

Viewing the Universe in new ways has always yielded surprising discoveries. Astronomers are accustomed to extending the limits of wavelength coverage, light-gathering power, and angular resolution. The MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars) mission - a suitcase-sized microsatellite housing an optical photometer of small (15-cm) aperture which deliberately blurs its stellar images for stability - forges its advances in totally different regions of parameter space. MOST is the only existing observatory on Earth or in space which can monitor stars several times per minute with almost no interruptions for weeks at a time, reaching photometric precisions of a few micromagnitudes (ppm).

These demonstrated levels of time sampling and ultraprecise photometry enable the MOST Science Team to explore with unprecedented sensitivity acoustic (p-mode) oscillations and granulation behaviour in other stars, to search for reflected light from giant close-in exoplanets, and discover other phenomena associated with stellar variability.

I will summarise the first year of full scientific operations of the MOST mission. Results at press time include: (1) the first photometric detection of solar-like oscillations in a star other than the Sun, eta Boo; (2) a surprising null detection of oscillations in Procyon, constraining theories of stochastic excitation by convective turbulence; (3) real-time observations of differential rotation in a young active G5 dwarf, {\kappa}1 Ceti; and (4) newly discovered pulsators caught in the nets of MOST's Secondary Science and Guide Star fields, including a binary \delta Scuti star with more than 40 frequencies. Results which should be ready for presentation by January 2005 will include: a comparison of the granulation frequency spectra of a sample of solar-type stars for direct comparison to the Sun, continuous monitoring of the exoplanet system 51 Pegasi to search for the reflected light signal from the close-in exoplanet, and I expect, a few other surprises.

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