Astronomers Release Most Detailed Photo Of A Star Other Than The Sun

First Posted: Jun 29, 2017 04:24 AM EDT

An Irish astronomer from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies has captured the most detailed photo ever of a sun that is not Earth’s own Sun. Called Betelgeuse, the recently imaged star is a red supergiant that is located in the constellation Orion. It is around 1,400 the size of the Sun with a billion times more volume.

According to Popular Mechanics, an international research team led by Dr. Eamon O’Gorman created the detailed photograph with the help of the largest radio telescope in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The scientists also found that the star’s temperature in its inner atmosphere is not uniform, a phenomenon that could not only help them know how such stars are heated but also eventually find out how they are created.

“ALMA now provides us with the capabilities to image surface features on nearby stars while also directly measuring the temperature of these features,” Dr. O’Gorman said in the official statement. "We have known for years that the visible surface of Betelgeuse is not uniform, but ALMA has now shown us in detail that the temperature in its inner atmosphere is also not uniform.” The scientist has also suggested that magnetic fields, similarly to what is seen in the Sun, could cause these temperature fluctuations.

Incidentally, Betelgeuse, which lies around 650 light-years away, is not only the nearest star to the solar system but its size also makes it a good direct target to photograph by ALMA. The night sky may be full of bright stars; however, they are located so far away and so tiny that even the strongest telescopes on Earth are not able to capture images of these stars’ surfaces. The newly created image also shows that ALMA has the ability to take detailed images of the largest stars in the sky.

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