Spotting RR Lyrae Stars
RR Lyrae stars are a special type of variable star that changes in brightness due to radial pulsations that increase and decrease the radius of the star . Over the past 3 years, Planet Hunters volunteers on Talk have keenly spotted several previously unknown RR Lyrae stars in the Kepler field, that were nearby neighbors on the CCDs to Kepler targets and were contaminating the photometric aperture used to produce the light curve of the real Kepler target star. You read more about some of these discoveries here. These discoveries have been passed on to collaborators in the Kepler Cepheid & RR Lyrae Working Group who have continued to study those stars including sometimes having the contaminating RR Lyrae added to the Kepler list of targets to get its full light curve.
Katrien Kolenberg who is a member of the Kepler Cepheid & RR Lyrae Working Group, recently wrote a chapter for the conference proceedings of the ’40 Years of Variable Stars: A Celebration of Contributions by Horace A. Smith’ Conference’, and she presented a similarly titled talk at the conference this past May. In the chapter, she gives a summary of the science from the now over 55 RR Lyrae stars known in the Kepler field. She includes a shout out to Planet Hunters to acknowledge the project’s contribution to discovery. Congratulations to all involved in the RR Lyrae discoveries. You can read the chapter from the conference proceedings here.