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Probing Stellar Physics and Testing Stellar Evolution through Asteroseismology (PROSPERITY)
Start date: 01 Jan 2009, End date: 31 Dec 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Our goal is to achieve a physical description of stellar interiors with an order of magnitude better precision in the physical quantities than we have now. We will concentrate on three outstanding critical issues in current stellar structure theory and solve them through a novel approach termed asteroseismology. 1. We will obtain a quantitative estimate of the amount of convective mixing and of the internal rotation profile for a broad range of stellar masses and evolutionary states, with specific emphasis on massive stars and on red giant stars. This will be done using new seismic data assembled by the space missions MOST, CoRoT and Kepler, which have a factor 1000 better precision than the ground-based data we had to rely on so far. 2. We will include, for the first time, the effect of a radiation-driven stellar wind on the theoretical description of stellar oscillations. This opens a new avenu: the seismic calibration of stellar evolution models of the most massive stars from the core-hydrogen burning up to the supernova stage. 3. We will build a new dedicated camera, MAIA, for the Mercator telescope at La Palma (Canary Islands), to investigate the badly understood common envelope phase of close binary stars. There are large unknowns in their evolution, mainly during the red giant phase when the two stellar components may share a common envelope. The recently discovered pulsating subdwarf O and B binaries must have lost their hydrogen envelope during a common envelope phase near the tip of the red giant branch. We will put tight seismic constraints on their outer hydrogen layer and mass and use these two diagnostics to perform a critical evaluation of close binary evolution theory along the giant branch. Our project encompasses engineering, observational astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, time series analysis and statistical clustering. It will revolutionise stellar evolution theory for a variety of stars and all topics in astrophysics that build on it.
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