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Surface Plume On Betelgeuse Imaged

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the it-looks-hungry dept.

Space 51

BJ_Covert_Action writes "Astronomy Now is running a piece regarding some new, exquisitely detailed pictures taken of Betelgeuse, a star in the constellation Orion. Betelgeuse is classified as a supergiant star, and its diameter is approximately 1,000 times that of the sun. Two teams of astronomers used ESO's 'Very large Telescope,' its NACO instruments, and an imaging technique known as 'Lucky Imaging' to take some of the most detailed pictures of Betelgeuse to date. The new pictures reveal a gas plume on Betelgeuse which extends from the surface of the star a distance greater than that between our sun and Neptune. The images also show several other 'boiling' spots on the surface of Betelgeuse, revealing the surface to be quite tumultuous. Currently, it is known that stars of Betelgeuse's size eject the equivalent mass of the Earth into space every year. This recent astronomy work will help researchers determine the mechanics behind such ejections." Update — 8/05 at 13:31 by SS: Here's the original press release from the European Southern Observatory, since the Astronomy Now page has slowed to a crawl.

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51 comments

FP (3, Funny)

El Torico (732160) | more than 4 years ago | (#28955947)

First plume!

Obligatory (2, Funny)

iveygman (1303733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28955977)

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!

Re:Obligatory (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28955997)

Nice fuckin' picture! *grabs crotch*

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28956007)

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!

Oh, now you've done it...

Re:Obligatory (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956047)

Damnit! Beat me to the punch... now I'll be modded redundant if I do it... bastard!

I think Beetlejuice is just a dark "The Cat in the Hat."

Re:Obligatory (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956787)

I once did that, but Bloody Mary and the Candyman appeared instead. They all got their schedules messed up. Stupid ghosts.

Artist's impression? (5, Funny)

g5g5g5 (414184) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956073)

If we just obtained the most detail picture evar, why do they show an artist's impression?

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956309)

First thought I had was "Wow. Telescopy has really evolved!" Then the small print said "artist's impression", and the actual image of a blue smudge just wasn't all that exciting anymore.

Re:Artist's impression? (3, Informative)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956513)

Welcome to astronomy!

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956587)

LMAO, same here. I got this "holy fucking fuck" thought in my head until I realized. :D

Damn. But still impressive, especially given Earth's damn atmosphere in the way. And that artist's impression would be perfect as a schematic picture for Betelguese to complement its Wikipedia article, and possibly even the supergiant article, if it just wasn't for that one probably being an ESA picture. ESA has a far less permissive license than NASA. :-(

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956657)

No wait, this isn't an ESA site, but ESO. :-S

And they claim that they're CC Attribution 3.0 compatible on the copyright page. Yay!

http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/copyright.html [eso.org]

Re:Artist's impression? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28968919)

Actually, we recently (last year) modified our copyright specifically so that our images could be used in Wiki etc.
Oli, from ESO

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957029)

Then let me reinstate some excitement: compare with a photo of Pluto's surface [wikipedia.org] taken by Hubble. Betelgeuse is at least 800 000 times further away.

Re:Artist's impression? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28958535)

> compare with a photo of Pluto's surface [wikipedia.org] taken by Hubble. Betelgeuse is at least 800 000 times further away

But considerably more than 800 000 time bigger...

Re:Artist's impression? (2, Interesting)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966295)

If I've done the calculations correctly, then Pluto appears somewhat larger in the sky than Betelgeuse. Since I can't don't have a source with Betelgeuse's angular size listed....

Betelgeuse:
6.05473818 Ã-- 10^18m (distance from earth)
1 302.912x10^9 (diameter in meters)

4647081.45 (distance per diameter)

The Sun:
1.496Ã--10^11 m (distance from earth)
31.6â â" 32.7â (angular size in arc-minutes)
1.392Ã--10^9 m (diameter)

107.47 (distance per diameter)

So, Betelgeuse appears 43240.22 times smaller than the sun, from earth. Given the Sun's apparent size in the sky, Betelgeuse is about 0.0438 arc-seconds in size, which is smaller than Pluto's (0.065" to 0.115").

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957143)

Astronomy ain't like dusting crops, kid. Without artist's impressions we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?

Seriously, though, a smudge with any kind of detail at all is pretty impressive when all you've ever seen are point sources. The problem is that non-astronomers often find real astronomy to be about as exciting as reading detailed baseball statistics is to non-sports fans.

Re:Artist's impression? (2, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957813)

I heard that Betelgeuse actually had a decent ERA last season. It'll make the All-Star team for sure!

Re:Artist's impression? (2, Interesting)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958107)

Who cares? Everyone knows that he's on the Geuse anyway.

Ban a-Steroids!

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28965581)

about as exciting as reading detailed baseball statistics is to non-sports fans

Now, now, I don't think even THAT is exciting for sports fans.

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959073)

Then the small print said "artist's impression", and the actual image of a blue smudge just wasn't all that exciting anymore.

Speak for yourself. I saw it and thought "That's a real image of a star 640 light years away". I don't care how blurry it is. Betelgeuse just became that much more real to me today.

Imagine what we could see with another Hubble telescope.

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#28962183)

  Same here. When I was little I felt the same way about seeing images from the Mariners, Vikings, Pioneer and Voyager probes. Wow!

  Now we're actually starting to image stars, and not all that much later, really. A couple generations.

  What wonders will we see in another quarter century? Imagine what we could do with large scopes in Sol orbit, baselines on the order of hundreds of thousands of kilometers, adaptive optics and modern software...

SB

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956609)

Because the image is a boring blur, and is shown below anyway.

Re:Artist's impression? (4, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956881)

Short answer: People are idiots.

Long answer: Since the picture taken isn't very appealing for the general population such a headline might be confusing and in the end disappointing for the common reader. In order to reach out to the masses one needs to compromise so that anyone, besides astronomers or those interested in astronomy, can find it interesting. While ESO published the artists picture as well it seems that other news publishers have chosen to focus on it rather than providing it as an insightful interpretation to what the star might look like. Since the picture is undoubtly beautiful it will most likely spread faster and wider than the story would alone, giving the story a chance to hitch a ride on this fame. Naturally this means more advertisement exposure for the news sites that published the story resulting in additional revenue.

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28961953)

At least they included a ruler, right? The article said the gas plume extended the equivalent distance of Neptune. The artist's impression shows the distance ratios, somewhat.

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956899)

If we just obtained the most detail picture evar, why do they show an artist's impression?

The question is put better why did they lead with the artist's impression, rather than the actual data, and why didn't they ask an astronomer about the image -- star surfaces are not anywhere near that bumpy, except, I imagine, when there's something catastrophic going on. Celestial objects, especially big ones, are exceedingly smooth.

Re:Artist's impression? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28957477)

Sorry, but you seem to have completely missed the point of this exciting observation, namely that the "surface" (if you can even define something like that for a supergiant star) of Betelgeuse is indeed extremely bumpy ...

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957743)

> ...star surfaces are not anywhere near that bumpy, except, I imagine, when
> there's something catastrophic going on.

I believe that is an accurate description of Betelgeuse. I agree that the "artists impression" is silly, though.

Re:Artist's impression? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28975607)

Our sun is boring and smooth -- but then our Sun is particularly inactive (lucky for us!). Betelgeuse is well known for its giant "star spots" (eruptions), which have been imaged many times before (albeit in *very* *slightly* lower resolution than this, as ESO correctly points out) -- see e.g. http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1997MNRAS.291..819W/0000824.000.html and http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2000MNRAS.315..635Y. There is nothing very new in this study.

Bob

Re:Artist's impression? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958129)

Think of the artists impression as the "executive summary" for those without the scientific background

in the F/X world reality is boring (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959255)

I saw this at my local science museum. I went ther to look at decent feeds space shuttle space walks on their NASA TV. To me this is absolutely fascinating to see live astronauts and the earth moving below. But as action TV, its pretty dull. Most of the museum patrons were watching simulated animations of space probes on another monitor. That was far more flashy!

SLASHDOT MUST BE STOPPED! (-1, Offtopic)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956077)

"We know relatively well how much mass supergiants loose [sic], and how it ends up in the interstellar medium as planetary nebulae," Pierre Kervella of the Paris Observatory tells Astronomy Now.

Emphasis mine.

IT IS "LOSE", NOT "LOOSE"!!!!!!

This "infection" of the world with slashdot-itis MUST BE STOPPED!

Re:SLASHDOT MUST BE STOPPED! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28956183)

That was written by someone at astronomynow, not by someone at slashdot.

Re:SLASHDOT MUST BE STOPPED! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28956327)

Correct grammatical usage when loose is referred to as a verb.

Obligatory HG2G (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956339)

Perhaps the gas plume is why a hrung chose to collapse on Betelguese 7?

Re:Obligatory HG2G (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956549)

I thought you were going to quote the story surrounding zaphod beeblebrox's birth, i don't have my books handy so I can't look it up.

Be careful with the photos (-1, Redundant)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 4 years ago | (#28956795)

The first one in the reported website is an "artist's impression".
The real pictures from the astronomical observations are later in the web page.
It would be really nice if we could have those kinf of images from Earth!. Maybe from Hubble [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Be careful with the photos (2, Informative)

Zixx (530813) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957495)

Nah, VLT has much better resolution than Hubble, something like a factor of 3 at near infra-red. Adaptive optics FTW.

Re:Be careful with the photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28958155)

more like Aperture FTW

Re:Be careful with the photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28959961)

Well it sure doesn't show. In other words, pics or it didn't happen.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (4, Informative)

DaPh00z (840056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957357)

You can view this image and many other interesting photos at the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090805.html [nasa.gov]

Photoshop ftw (1)

tootalltom (1097273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28957917)

Artist Interpretation + Photoshop = Space Goatse

The ESO says 1,000 times bigger, the post here (1)

ourcraft (874165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958127)

says 1000 times the diameter, of our star. The description on ESO is a very big sun. The post here suggests a whopper a billion times the size of our sun.

I am guessing that the poster here made a transcription error. A little numeracy could go a long way.

1000 times the size != 1000 times the diameter.

1000 times the diameter = 1,000,000,000 times the size.

Re:The ESO says 1,000 times bigger, the post here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28958483)

It is actually 936 times the length of the sun so almost a billion times as volume. But surprisingly it has an extremely low density, with only a mass of 20x the sun.

The sun and planets are not drawn to scale, but Betelgeuse is.

Re:The ESO says 1,000 times bigger, the post here (1)

ourcraft (874165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958765)

I was about to correct myself as to my supposition on who was accurate. They are different one has to correct, and yes its the poster here and not ESO. The diameter is 1000 times our sun. While I wish I had corrected it first, thanks for the info.

Re:The ESO says 1,000 times bigger, the post here (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959473)

So you are saying it's not the length but the girth that matters?

Re:The ESO says 1,000 times bigger, the post here (1)

ourcraft (874165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959675)

As our sun is spherical, and not turd shaped, as it is the womb from which all non hydrogen elements are born and because it can in no way be said to have a sense of humour, I always assumed dick jokes were unlikely.

Collapse? (1)

bloobamator (939353) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958989)

TFA mentions that when the star "goes supernova", that we'll be able to see it unaided even during the day. But if it's shedding mass so quickly, perhaps by the time its internal furnace cools down, the star won't have sufficient surface mass to cause the kind of collapse necessary to create a supernova?

Re:Collapse? (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#28966503)

It's a *big* star, and earth isn't that large of a planet. I suppose it all depends on how long it takes before the supernova. Like....when the car runs over a nail, is it going to have a blowout, or just a whimper because of the previously-existing slow leak?

Syreens (2, Funny)

molnarcs (675885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959293)

*Yawn* Wake me up when you got a picture of the Syreen station orbiting Betelgeuse.
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