Irish astronomer leads team that produces first image of star 1,400 times bigger than Sun

An Irish astronomer has lead an international discovery to make the most detailed image of the surface of a star.

Irish Research Council Scholar and Astronomer at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dr Eamon O’Gorman led a team of astronomers to create the image using the world's largest radio telescope.

The image of Betelgeuse, the famous Red Supergiant located in the constellation Orion, has resulted in the discovery that the temperature varies throughout the star.

Irish astronomer leads team that produces first image of star 1,400 times bigger than Sun

This could help explain how the atmosphere of these stars are heated and how material leaves the stars.

In terms of size, Betelgeuse is around 1,400 times larger than our Sun, and more than one billion times larger in terms of volume.

As stars like Betelgeuse evolve, they expel an enormous amount of themselves back into the interstellar medium via stellar winds. These winds contain crucial heavy elements that the stars have manufactured and are vital ingredients for the next generation of stars and planets.

Dr O'Gorman said this particular radio telescope will allow for further information to be gathered about stars.

Dr Pierre Kervella, astronomer at the Paris Observatory and member of the team said: "When we look at the night sky with our naked eyes, we see bright stars everywhere, but because they are so small, even the most powerful telescopes in the world struggle to image their surfaces. Our results show ALMA has the capability to image the surfaces of the largest stars in detail."


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