The first Polish scientific satellites that are to explore stars brighter and hotter than the Sun were developed in the country during the years 2010 - 2012. The project whose costs exceeded 14 million PLN is aimed at understanding the internal structure of stars that are among the most massive in our galaxy. Stellar oscillations are investigated with the help of a constellation of satellites realized within the BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) project. This enterprise is carried out within a Canadian-Austrian-Polish cooperation and uses data from five satellites operating in orbit: the two Austrian satellites "TUGSAT-1" and "UniBRITE", the two Polish satellites "Lem" and "Heweliusz" and one Canadian satellite "Toronto".


The satellites are taking images of the sky with a wide-field camera to measure the light output of the brightest stars precisely. Accurate determinations of stellar brightness from the Earth’s surface proves to be difficult because of the disturbing influence of its atmosphere. Several hundred (500-800) stars of the Milky Way are and will be observed during the BRITE experiment.


Polish scientists investigate mechanisms of transport of energy and angular momentum that take place inside the hottest stars. These are important phenomena in nature that physicists have known for a long time. However, they lack satisfactory mathematical descriptions up to now. The BRITE project will help to understand and model these processes.

Other important astrophysical questions to be addressed with BRITE are interactions of stars and their circumstellar disks, close binary stars and their tidal interactions, as well stellar mass loss through winds and their connection to the surface, to name just a few.

last update 17 January 2017