Susan Mullally

Susan Mullally

Susan E. Mullally is a scientist working on a new class of highly eccentric binary systems, discovered with the Kepler data. This new class of eccentric binary stars are colloquially known as Heartbeat stars because of the sudden and periodic changes in their brightness. Primarily, this is the result of the tidal forces that cause the stars to change shape as they pass each other. Like a bell being hit with a mallet, these tidal forces also cause the stars to pulsate at harmonics of the orbital period. With 4 years of high quality time series data, we have discovered more than 130 potential heartbeat stars and we are beginning work to understand these objects and what they can tell us about stellar populations and stellar evolution.

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