14 December 2015

Astronomers reveal first image of red supergiant star from Atacama desert

In the constellation of Orion, approximately 640 light years from our planet, the scientists from Cerro Paranal Observatory in Atacama managed to capture the first image of the red supergiant star called Betelgeus

The first image of Betelgeuse’s visible surface was captured by an international team of astronomers led by Pierre Kervella, researcher of the International Franco-Chilean Mixed Unit of Astronomy (UMI-FCA) of the University of Chile and of the National Scientific Research Centre of France (CNRS).

In March of this year the researchers began their observations using the SPHERE instrument, which was recently installed on the Cerro Paranal Observatory (ESO), managing to observe Betelgeuse “as the human eye would see it, with an irregular surface, an incomplete layer of dust and surrounded by gas layers “, explains Kervella.

Betelgeuse is one of the largest known stars, with a radius of 700 times the Sun. Its orange color is caused by the particularly low temperature of its surface (compared to the Sunl) of approximately 3,500 ° C.

As it is a massive star, Betelgeuse is about ten million years old. According to experts, it is likely that the life of this giant red ends in a powerful explosion of a supernova within the next million years.

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