Astronomers have obtained the most detailed picture of the surface of a distant star


2017-06-27 10:00:06




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Astronomers have obtained the most detailed picture of the surface of a distant star

An international team of astronomers working with Takashi a large antenna array of millimeter range (ALMA), the largest complex of radio telescopes received the most detailed image of the surface of a distant star that ever was created with the help of radio telescopes.

The above picture is Betelgeuse, the famous red supergiant in the Orion constellation. Thanks to this picture, scientists have found that the temperature of the internal atmosphere of the star are far from uniform. The discovery could help in explaining the heating of the atmosphere of such stars, and how stellar matter falls into interstellar space.

"ALMA has the opportunity to show us pictures of the surface features adjacent to our star system, and allows directly to measure the temperature of these features," — explains Dr. Eamon’Gorman, an astronomer at the Dublin Institute of advanced studies and lead author of the study.

"for years, We suspected that the visible surface of Betelgeuse is nonuniform in terms of the temperature characteristics, however, allowed ALMA to look at this feature in amazing detail. It turns out that the lower layers of the atmosphere the stars are also not uniform. Most likely, these temperature changes are caused by magnetic fields as it happens in the same way our home star, the Sun."

The Results of observations of the astronomers were recently published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Speaking about the size of Betelgeuse – a star is huge. It is about 1400 more than our Sun, and its mass is more than 1 billion times the mass of our sun. In the course of its evolution a star like Betelgeuse spew with the help of the stellar wind in interstellar space an enormous amount of his material. These winds contain heavy elements produced by stars representing important ingredients for the formation of new stars and planets.

Size of Betelgeuse compared to the orbits of the planets of our Solar system

"is Located about 650 light years away, Betelgeuse is not the nearest to the Solar system star, but her size makes her an ideal target for study using ALMA", — comments Dr. Pierre Kervella, astronomer of the Paris Observatory, who also took part in the study.

Betelgeuse in the background of the constellation of Orion (left). A single image (center). The photo on the right represents the previous best image of a star obtained using the Very large telescope

"When we look at the night sky with the naked eye, we see a lot of bright stars everywhere. But since these stars are very far away from us, even the most powerful telescopes in the world does not manage to capture the surface of these stars. Recent ALMA results show that the radio telescope is able to cope with this problem, if we are talking about the surface of very large stars."

ALMA is composed of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre antennas and is the most powerful complex of radio telescopes in the world. The distance between the individual telescopes can be up to 16 kilometers, which gives ALMA a remarkable ability to increase images.

The Complex consists of the international astronomical tool and located at an altitude of 5000 meters above the sea level of the chajnantor plateau in Northern Chile, in one of the driest places in the world. Many work with ALMA astronomers and Observatory from Europe, North America and East Asia.


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