Astronomers Capture Best-Ever Image of Alien Star
A new photo of the Antares supergiant is the best ever captured from a star other than the sun, researchers said.
The image shows the tumultuous surface of Antares and reveals an unexpected turbulence in its atmosphere, insinuating a mysterious process that is spreading violently in the stellar mass, added the scientists.
Located near 620 light years of Earth in the constellation Scorpio, Antares is a swollen stellar monster, with a mass and diameter of 12 times and 700 times that of our sun, respectively. Antares is therefore one of the largest and most brilliant stars known in our galaxy.
He also approaches the end of his life; Astronomers believe that it will explode as a supernova in a few thousand years. [Photos Supernova: Large Explosion Images]
Now, by using the European Southern Observatory (VLTI) very large telescope interferometer in Chile, astronomers solved the turbulent structure in the farthest layers of the star, revealing for the first time details about The surface of a distant star and eventually filling the gaps of our knowledge of how the massive stars die.
“How stars like Antares lose mass so quickly in the final phase of their evolution has been a problem for more than half a century,” said Keiichi Ohnaka of the Northern Catholic University in Chile.
“The VLTI is the only facility capable of directly measuring gas movements in the Antares extended atmosphere, a crucial step in clarifying this problem,” Ohnaka added, detailing the new discoveries that took place last week. “The next challenge is to identify what leads to turbulent movements.”
The VLTI consists of a maximum of four telescopes – a combination of 26.9 ft. (8.2 m) “unit telescopes” and “auxiliary telescopes” greater than 5.9 ft. (1.8 m) Which combine their infrared light collected by interferometry to create a “virtual” telescope 660 feet (200 m) wide, so a very high angular resolution of distant objects can be reached, allowing for detailed study of the dramatic surface And bubbling with Antares.
Using an instrument called AMBER (Astronomical Multi-BEam combineR), the Ohnaka team was able to measure the speed of plasma shuffling from inside Antares at different positions and compare these speeds with The average plasma velocity over the entire star.
From this data, a map of the relative velocity of the atmospheric gases on the disk of the star could be created. This is the first time that such a map has been created for a star outside the sun, the team members said.
Immediately, the researchers discovered a surprise: there appears to be low-density turbulent gases that burst much further away from the star than the theoretical models predict. Usually, in stars like our sun, the convection fluxes of superheated gases escape close to the stars’ cores on the surface, as does the flow of convection of water in a boiling kettle.
But the convection can not explain the strange atmosphere of Antares, and the researchers conclude that for the atmospheres of red supergiants, there must be a still unknown process that causes the movement of the material ….