Antares is a star that lies 550 light-years from planet Earth. Recently, the VLT (Very Large Telescope) captured the most detailed image ever produced of a star other than our sun. Findings from the image research have been published in the journal Nature.
Antares is approximately 700 times larger than the sun and makes it’s home in the constellation of Scorpius. As a red super-giant, the star is in its later phases of lifecycle and is currently losing stellar material into outer space. The star will go supernova eventually. Red supergiants can be up to 10 times more massive than our sun and are the largest types of stars in our known universe.
The image was produced by the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Researchers there mapped the star’s surface and it’s motions.
Lead author of the paper, Keiichi Ohnaka, tells CBC that “Antares is losing material not in a smooth or ordered way. But the velocity maps show that it’s very clumpy and turbulent and random. We don’t know what the mechanism is behind this turbulent motion.”
Below you can see the image map Ohnaka speaks of.
The mapping shows where clumps of solar energy are leaving the star, but it does not give us the causality; “We still don’t know what is really pushing the material, but at least we know how it’s losing it,” Ohnaka said.
Being able to image stars beyond our sun expands the horizons of telescopic imagery. The team already has it’s next targets.
In the future researchers will look at R Doradus which is a star located in the constellation of Dorado (southern hemisphere). R Doradus is similar to our sun.
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