An international team of astronomers has used a new algorithm to enhance observations from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope in its K2 Mission and perform the most detailed study yet of the variability of the Seven Sisters star cluster.
The Seven Sisters, known to the ancient Greeks and to modern astronomers as the Pleiades cluster, are a set of stars which are visible to the naked eye and have been studied for thousands of years by cultures all over the world. Stars such as the Seven Sisters are ordinarily far too bright to look at with high-performance telescopes, so researchers have demonstrated a powerful, new technique for observing such stars.
Researchers from the Stellar Astrophysics Centre at Aarhus University in Demark and Georgia State University developed a new technique to weight the contribution of each pixel in order to find the right balance where instrumental effects are cancelled out, revealing the true stellar variability. This new method has been named halo photometry, a simple and fast algorithm the authors have released as free open-source software.