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Space & Astronomy

Best ever image of a distant star revealed

By T.K. Randall
August 27, 2017 · Comment icon 16 comments

The image shows Antares in unprecedented detail. Image Credit: ESO/K. Ohnaka
Astronomers have managed to piece together an incredibly detailed image of a distant supergiant star.
The team, which was led by Keiichi Ohnaka of the Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile, used ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer to piece together the surface of Antares - a distinctive supergiant star situated in the constellation of Scorpius.

To create the image, the astronomers used the VLTI to map the star's surface and to measure the motions of its surface material.
"How stars like Antares lose mass so quickly in the final phase of their evolution has been a problem for over half a century," said study co-author Keiichi Ohnaka.

"The VLTI is the only facility that can directly measure the gas motions in the extended atmosphere of Antares - a crucial step towards clarifying this problem."

"The next challenge is to identify what's driving the turbulent motions."

A 3D animation of the star can be viewed below.

Source: Astronomy Now | Comments (16)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Amazing picture! Thanks for sharing.
Comment icon #8 Posted by mesuma 7 years ago
Wait wait wait??? A picture of a blurry orange blob is getting high praise? Can no one see the irony here?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
Only in your post.  If you'd like to know why this is special then ask.
Comment icon #10 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
Maybe you just conveniently forgot the context - s/he was probably referring to seeing the disk via optical means, ie an optical telescope, in which case that statement is accurate.  You can't make *optics* that could do this...  Sciency folk generally do *not* engage in running around saying something can never be done.. however, being aware of current/sensible limitations, and making sensible choices about spending the available research dollars, is a good thing, imo. As an example of justifying the need for open minds, I don't think this really makes the cut..  And besides, hands up anyo... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
Nope.  Can't see any irony, up until your post anyway.  I *can* see what looks like a disdain for scientific progress, though. I do understand that to someone disinterested in astronomy and who couldn't care less how far we have progressed in terms of resolving details on incredibly distant objects... that such an image might seem a little boring. But may I point out that when you see all those pretty looking, detailed, images of planets around other stars that we have detected.. those are just artistic impressions.  I guess we should blame NASA again (on behalf of all space agencies a... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Derek Willis 7 years ago
I thought the image is a depiction of the relative velocities of emissions, and not actually an image of what Antares "looks" like. Maybe I misread the article?
Comment icon #13 Posted by mesuma 7 years ago
  I was being facetious. I was poking fun at the fact that most of the pictures of blurry blobs of light on this website are usually treated with disdain. Hence the irony.
Comment icon #14 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
OK...  But if you put it in context the reason blurry images often receive a hostile reception is that they, unlike this one, are not supported by any sort of decent backstory.  In other words, we just get the blurry pic and the cry of "Omigod, proof of alienz!!!1!11!!!".  No information about camera, settings, other witnesses, why (if it was over a big city) no-one else reported it, etc etc.  Even if we get just a few pieces of info, such images get a reasonable reception imo. But usually, we get nuthin but the blur.  Justified disdain.
Comment icon #15 Posted by bison 7 years ago
Antares is currently the brightest star low in the southern sky, and can be readily seen in Scorpio, in the evening. Saturn is nearby, to the left, and higher up. Interesting to look at that point of light, and realize what detail astronomers have now been able to extract from that tiny dot.
Comment icon #16 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
And Scorpio is my favorite constellation.  Not only is it my star sign (if only I believed in that rubbish), but it actually looks like a scorpion, without requiring much imagination at all!  Plus it contains Antares, one of the prettiest red stars out there, and if you look in the area just behind its tail, you are looking at the centre of our Galaxy, at a huge black hole... (but there's lots of dark dust and nebulosity blocking our view, and it is so distant we couldn't see it anyway..).

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