General, Research, Technology

Astronomers get the most detailed picture of the surface of a distant star

International team of astronomers working withThe Atakama large millimeter-wave antenna array (ALMA), the largest complex of radio telescopes, has received the most detailed image of the surface of a distant star that has ever been created using radio telescopes.

The above photo isBetelgeuse, the famous red supergiant of the constellation Orion. Thanks to this photograph, scientists found that the temperature of the inner atmosphere of the star is far from uniform. The discovery can help explain how atmospheric heating of such stars occurs and how their stellar matter enters interstellar space.

“ALMA has the ability to show usimages of the surface features of stars adjacent to our system, and also allows direct temperature measurements of these features, ”explains Dr. Eamon O’Gorman, an astronomer from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study and lead author of the study.

“For many years we suspected that the visibleBetelgeuse’s surface is heterogeneous in terms of temperature, however, ALMA allowed us to look at this feature in amazing detail. It turns out that the lower atmosphere of the star is also not homogeneous. Most likely, these temperature changes are caused by magnetic fields, as similarly occurs in our own star, the Sun. "

Astronomer observations were recently published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Speaking about the size of Betelgeuse - the star is justis huge. It is about 1400 larger than our Sun, and its mass is 13-17 times greater than the mass of our luminary. As part of their evolution, stars like Betelgeuse eject a tremendous amount of their material through stellar wind into interstellar space. These winds contain heavy elements produced by stars and are important ingredients for the formation of new stars and planets.

Betelgeuse Size Compared to the Orbits of the Planets of our Solar System

"Located approximately 650 light years fromBetelgeuse is not the closest star to the solar system, but its size makes it an ideal target for research using ALMA, ”comments Dr. Pierre Cervella, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory, who also participated in the study.

Betelgeuse against the background of the constellation Orion (left). Single image (in the center). The right picture represents the previous best star image obtained with the Very Large Telescope.

"When we look at the night sky unarmedeye, then we see many bright stars everywhere. But since these stars are very far from us, even the most powerful telescopes in the world cannot cope with capturing the surface of these stars. The latest ALMA results show that the radio telescope is able to cope with this task when it comes to the surface of very large stars. "

ALMA consists of 66 giant 12-meter and7-meter antennas and is the most powerful complex of radio telescopes in the world. The distance between individual telescopes can be up to 16 kilometers, which gives ALMA outstanding image magnification capabilities.

The complex is an internationalastronomical instrument and located at an altitude of 5000 meters above sea level on the Chachnantor plateau in northern Chile, in one of the driest places in the world. Many astronomers and observatories from Europe, North America and East Asia work with ALMA.