r/space Aug 07 '22 Silver 9 Helpful 5 Wholesome 3 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Gold 1

Best image we have of another star - red supergiant Antares

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45.5k Upvotes

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u/-TheGreaterWill- Aug 07 '22

Wow, that's pretty amazing detail for what is photographed here.

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u/appleparkfive Aug 07 '22

Seriously. We're so used to high resolution photos, we forget just what we're seeing here. It's a massive star, with no processing! That's really crazy

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u/Aidoboy Aug 08 '22

It says "reconstructed" in the file name, you can't get pictures like this without processing. The Wikimedia entry has a blurb about it: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:VLTI_reconstructed_view_of_the_surface_of_Antares.jpg

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer astronomers have constructed this remarkable image of the red supergiant star Antares. This is the most detailed image ever of this object, or any other star apart from the Sun.

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u/Rodot Aug 08 '22

Technically all cameras are interferometers, just usually over a continuous surface so you don't need to do the math yourself

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u/admiralteal Aug 08 '22

It is possible to directly image stars beyond the sun.

By which I mean it is possible for us to build telescopes big enough to do it. The physical limits do not block it. But it would need to be outside of the atmosphere of Earth, which just causes too much distortion.

A lunar observatory with a aperture on the order of magnitude of 100 m, for example, would be able to directly image some of the closer stars.

And while that may sound completely absurd, if we really are serious about building permanent lunar space infrastructure, this is one of the best use cases for such a base.

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u/Hunky_not_Chunky Aug 07 '22

I want to see what JWST sees looking at this

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u/TheDwarvenGuy Aug 08 '22

It wouldn't see anything but a regular star. For a telescope the size of JWST, stars are less than a pixel wide. They only appear bigger in pictures (and in your eyes) because they're brighter.

You'd need a telescope that's 200 meters wide to get a photo like this. The way we achieve that IRL is by taking the light wave data from multiple telescoles we know the exact positions of, then using it to simulate a larger telescope in a process called "interferometry"

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u/bonjarno65 Aug 08 '22

As someone who got his PhD in this technique targeting stars like Antares you’re exactly correct!

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u/MMXIXL Aug 08 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

How come JWST can capture galaxies in detail but not stars especially if the stars in question are in close proximity i.e. within the Milky Way

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u/rkiive Aug 08 '22

Idk if anyone answered you but this is because galaxies contain (and therefore are bigger than) billions of stars.

So while they’re much closer, they’re literally hundreds of billions of times smaller.

I can’t make out an individual blade of grass from my balcony but I can see clearly the skyscrapers in the city 20km away.

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u/HexicDragon Aug 08 '22 Silver Helpful

Angular resolution matters most for getting a detailed photo of a star, and that isn't what the JWST is built for. The JWST specializes in collecting infrared light, which has longer wavelengths than visible light. A visible light telescope with a primary mirror of the same size of an infrared telescope will have a higher angular resolution only because of the wavelength it is collecting. In fact, the JWST's primary mirror is almost 3x larger than Hubble's, but their angular resolution is still about the same at the wavelengths they specialize in.

The Infrared wavelength the JWST specializes in and its small size compared to Earth-based telescopes means it's not as good at taking high-resolution images. While the infrared light that the JWST collects has a relatively low angular resolution, it is amazing at taking photos of extremely far objects and seeing through clouds and other debris that would otherwise absorb visible light.

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u/MMXIXL Aug 08 '22

Very good explanation, particularly the link between resolving power and wavelength. Thank you.

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/Cloonaid Aug 07 '22

Always thought Betelgeuse was pretty good looking in pictures. But this one is also great.

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u/phoenixmusicman Aug 07 '22 Silver

Can the Betelgeuse hurry up and explode please

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

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u/ddhuud Aug 08 '22

The wait is almost over. Surely no more than 100,000 years.

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u/KHAAAN_khaaan Aug 08 '22

Every time I’m outside at night and can see the stars, I look up at Betelgeuse, focus my mind, and go, “NOW!!”

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u/Polenball Aug 08 '22

It actually worked the first time, you'll just have to wait a few hundred years for the light to get here.

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u/xpepcax Aug 08 '22

Actually his "now" is still going toward beetlejuice

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u/OrchidBest Aug 08 '22

It could have exploded 641 years ago. And that fact just blew someone’s mind.

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u/d0rsett Aug 08 '22

One could say someone’s mind just went… supernova. 😎 whoops, wrong glasses 🤓

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u/civgarth Aug 08 '22

Slice of chorizo?

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u/mcburgs Aug 08 '22

I understood that reference.

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u/FragrantExcitement Aug 08 '22

Just checking, this is not out of focus, sliced cured meat, correct?

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u/MyNameIsNonYaBizniz Aug 07 '22

Get that torchlight out of my face, I'm trying to sleep here.

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u/Mattsasse Aug 07 '22

Please tell me the correct pronunciation of that is "Beetlejuice."

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u/ThisIsMyWorkAccount- Aug 07 '22

Yes that is in fact the case

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u/Redditforgoit Aug 08 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

Fun fact: if you say Betelgeuse three times the star will appear next to our solar system and consume it completely.

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u/IcyDickbutts Aug 08 '22

A real fin fact would be that approximately 7.36 trillion great white sharks could fit between earth and the sun.

I do enjoy yours more though because space sharks is something we don't need in the 2022-2023 season

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u/patricktheintern Aug 08 '22

From the folks who brought you sharknados 1-?, you won’t want to miss this summers hit new feel good film, Sharknova! RatedPG13.

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u/b33r_engineer Aug 08 '22

I think there were six sharknado movies. But really, the first one was a B-movie masterpiece, and the rest were just a dumpster fire of shit.

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u/ninjadude4535 Aug 08 '22

Jeez, well hopefully nobody says Betelgeuse a third time. That'd be pretty unfortunate.

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u/Hatedpriest Aug 08 '22

Why would anyone say Betelgeuse?

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u/123skid Aug 07 '22

You fucking crazy we don't want that guy running around in here. You are meddling with powers You do not understand.

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u/apocolipse Aug 08 '22

That’s why we spelled it different

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/I_MakeCoolKeychains Aug 07 '22

This movie and the Adams family taught 6 year old me to like goth/ emo girls

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u/fracta1 Aug 07 '22

We're taking about Christina Ricci, right?

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u/Girl501 Aug 08 '22

I know chorizo when I see it!

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 07 '22 Silver Helpful All-Seeing Upvote Great Astrophotography

No processed meats here. This is the best image we have of a star other than our Sun, the red supergiant Antares in Scorpius, taken by the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Most stars are point sources, it was only possible to image Antares because of its very large size and relative proximity. If placed in our solar system, the surface of Antares would reach somewhere between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter.

Credit: ESO/K. Ohnaka

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares

It's not super high res but it's pretty good for something that's 550 light years or 3,233 trillion miles away. It's enough to see that it has massive hot and cold spots due to convection currents, sun-spots which cover a much larger proportion of the surface compared to our Sun. You can also see that its shape isn't very well defined, more of a blob than a sphere. This makes sense as the outer layers of a red giant are little more than hot near-vacuum, tenuously held by the star's gravity.

Edit: found some more details here on the ESO site:

https://www.eso.org/public/unitedkingdom/news/eso1726/

Also, they made this 3d animation showing what they think it might look like:

https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1726c/

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u/dudettte Aug 07 '22

what does it mean “hot near vacuum”

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

The outer layers of giant stars have very low density compared to, say, Earth's atmosphere. Antares has about 14 times the mass of our Sun but over the billion times the volume, so it has a very low average density.

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u/nocternum Aug 07 '22

so will it float like saturn?

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u/RebelKeithy Aug 07 '22

It's 10,000,000 times less dense than Saturn.

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u/chomponthebit Aug 07 '22

Ah, so it could float on Saturn

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u/Simbuk Aug 07 '22

More like Saturn would sink in it.

It’s kind of interesting to think about what that interaction would look like. If it suddenly appeared in Antares’ outer layers, would Saturn just boil away, be stripped of its mass, or would it hold together? Would its orbit decay?

There are so many questions.

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u/diuturnal Aug 07 '22

Look, if you wanted me to download universe sandbox again, you just gotta say it. Not pose questions about space and make me want to go explode stars again.

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u/Simbuk Aug 07 '22

Do it.

Also, Space Engine is super fun for sightseeing.

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u/handsomeness Aug 08 '22

Which one is better sandbox 2 or space engine?

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u/Oily_biscuit Aug 07 '22

It would separate the hydrogen and oxygen in the water and just burn hotter, I think

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u/Jimmy_Fromthepieshop Aug 07 '22

It means that the material is a gas at an extremely low pressure. And even though it is at this low pressure it can still be extremely hot and therefore emit light making it visible.

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u/scarlet_sage Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

It's nearly a vacuum (the density of material there is very low), but what little matter is there is hot (high energy).

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u/Neethis Aug 07 '22

The outer layers of the star are very thin (near vacuum) but the individual particles of plasma have lots of energy (very hot)

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u/jerrysprinkles Aug 07 '22

Maybe a stupid question for us plebs in the back but if this picture is of a star that is 550 light years away, yet we know of numerous stars that are under 10 light years away, why have we not photographed those with the same equipment?

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

Antares is a supergiant, about 680 times the diameter of the Sun, so it has a larger apparent size than the stars in our neighbourhood.

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u/IrnBroski Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

But since apparent size decreases with the square of the distance , wouldn’t nearby stars still have larger apparent sizes despite Antares being so large ?

550ly/10ly is 55, 55 squared is in the region of 2500.

So Antares would be the same apparent size as something 10 light years away that was 2500 times smaller than it

Where am I mistaken? Like I know I must be because these types of images don’t exist for nearby stars

edit: my interpretation of the numbers was wrong. from what ive been told, Antares is 680 times larger than than the sun in terms of diameter, but in terms of the area of the circle we see, it would be 6802 times larger, which absolutely dwarfs the 552 mentioned above

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u/FlameHaze0 Aug 07 '22

Angular size is inversely proportional to distance, not the square of distance

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u/IrnBroski Aug 07 '22

Thanks for clearing that up

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u/Makkaroni_100 Aug 07 '22

And I thought I have something wrong in my head, because I couldnt find the way to prove it is the square.

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u/FolkSong Aug 07 '22

Apparent diameter decreases linearly with distance. You're maybe thinking of apparent area, but then Antares is 6802 = 462,000 times the actual cross-sectional area of the sun.

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u/IrnBroski Aug 07 '22

I see.. big gap in my understanding! Thanks for clearing it up

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 07 '22

An important point about the VLT used to record this image:

Among its instruments is a visible light interferometer which can combine light from up to four telescopes to create a virtual telescope equivalent to a single mirror up to 200 metres across. This allows it to resolve fine details far beyond what can be seen with a single telescope alone.

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u/Zhukov-74 Aug 07 '22

No processed meats here.

Are we sure that this isn’t a slice of pastrami?

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u/Mundane__Detail Aug 07 '22

The ol' "slice of pastrami on the telescope lens" trick to make the new guy think he discovered a new star. Classic.

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u/undergrowth Aug 07 '22

Ok but how did the chorizo get into space in the first place?

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u/[deleted] Aug 08 '22

Local inhabitants on some space rock made it

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/solocupjazz Aug 07 '22

I was thinking a slice of under-ripe tomato

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/ChillyBearGrylls Aug 07 '22

Looks more like gabagoolcapicola

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/The_Red_Chicken Aug 07 '22

I thought the Very Large Telescope was not built yet?

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u/whyisthesky Aug 07 '22

You’re probably thinking of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). VLT has been around for a couple decades now

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u/Oneangrygnome Aug 07 '22

Telescope > Large Telescope > Very Large Telescope > Extremely Large Telescope > Super Large Unit Telescope?

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u/whyisthesky Aug 07 '22

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u/halfanothersdozen Aug 07 '22

We need to have an intervention with Science about how they name things.

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u/MuchoDestrudo Aug 07 '22

We'll call it the VBNC: Very Boring Naming Commission.

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u/username_elephant Aug 07 '22

Still too exciting. Time to create the extremely boring naming commission

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u/atters Aug 07 '22

TWAIN is a protocol used for scanners. It is, quite literally, Technology Without An Interesting Name.

Scientists are THE WORST at coming up with catchy names. Probably the only time you’ll hear me advocating for marketing and sales.

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u/MuchoDestrudo Aug 07 '22

I find it kind of endearing really.

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u/OSUfan88 Aug 07 '22

I love it. Astronomers are very keen on naming things what they sound like.

Matter that can’t emit light? Dark matter.

Process where you body is stretched like spaghetti when entering a black hole? Spaghettification.

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u/Balldogs Aug 07 '22

Oh, it's not just limited to astronomy. There's a small region of the brain, underneath the foldy cortex, that's much darker than the surrounding tissue. It's name? Substantia nigra. Basically Latin for "black stuff"

Scientists are nicely literal with naming things.

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u/itsameDovakhin Aug 07 '22

Ever heard of the "MAP kinase kinase kinase"?

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u/TheYeastHunter Aug 07 '22

Some kind of Great Naming Convention

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u/Novantico Aug 07 '22

The Great Naming Convention Convention, sponsored by the U.S. Redundant department of redundancy…and the Russians.

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u/BushyBrowz Aug 07 '22

As someone who is not at all knowledgeable about this stuff, I thought for sure you were all joking.

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u/PlanarDissonance Aug 07 '22

Holy cow, that thing was going to be bigger than all of the other ones combined? Dang!

Too bad it was canceled! That's some exciting stuff!

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u/guitarburst05 Aug 07 '22

“Ostentatiously Large Telescope.”

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

I have great hopes for The Despair Telescope:

https://xkcd.com/1294/

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u/Slade_Riprock Aug 07 '22

Telescope > Large Telescope > Very Large Telescope > Extremely Large Telescope > Super Large Unit Telescope?

Embarrassingly Large Telescope

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u/radicalbiscuit Aug 07 '22

Sounds like JJ Abrams is in charge of telescope ideas and naming

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u/H_alcyon Aug 07 '22

How large is it compared to our sun?

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u/siddhuism Aug 07 '22

It is around 12 solar masses. As in, the mass of our sun, times 12. If placed at the center of our solar system, it will reach to somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

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u/wggn Aug 07 '22

so it's much less dense than our sun?

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

Yes, millions of times less dense I believe.

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

It's 680 times the diameter of the Sun, if placed in our solar system its surface would be somewhere between the Mars and Jupiter.

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u/BagOnuts Aug 08 '22

Wait, you mean if it was where our sun is the edge of it would stretch past Mars????

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u/-Shoebill- Aug 08 '22

Yes, and our own Sun will expand near or over Earth's orbit in it's red giant phase as well. Though by then nothing will be alive to witness that.

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u/naughtyboy20 Aug 08 '22

Nothing on the Earth at least.

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u/Jessica_Ariadne Aug 07 '22

Earth would only be about halfway to the "surface" of that star if it were placed where the sun is. Surface is in quotations because it's a very tenuous surface.

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/Jessica_Ariadne Aug 07 '22

True. I stole this from phys.org: "At the photosphere, temperature and density reaches its lowest point – approximately 5,700 K and a density of 0.2 g/m3 (about 1/6,000th the density of air at sea level)."

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u/Czl2 Aug 07 '22

FYI It has a smaller companion not visible in the linked image.

Antares appears as a single star when viewed with the naked eye, but it is actually a binary star, with its two components called α Scorpii A and α Scorpii B. The brighter of the pair is the red supergiant, while the fainter is a hot main sequence star of magnitude 5.5.

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u/sirbruce Aug 07 '22

I'm wondering if the bulging areas at the top and bottom correspond to the star's axis of rotation?

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u/Positronic_Matrix Aug 07 '22

The bulges do not necessarily correspond to the axis of rotation. The density of Antares is so low that it pulses and throbs with massive waves across its surface. Here’s a model of what it is believed to look like:

https://www.astro.uu.se/~bf/movie/dst35gm04n26/movie.html

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u/Chromattix Aug 08 '22

I watched the first one (wasn't going to download them all but I can tell how the cross section ones would animated anyway) since it's basically acting like a spherical bubbling pool of water only less dense. Very unusual since like many I assume stars to be quite bound to a perfect spherical shape at all times.

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u/AutoCommentor Aug 07 '22

Is that three thousand trillion, or three and a quarter trillion?

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u/I__Know__Stuff Aug 07 '22

550 Light Years = 3233243955250984 miles

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u/Hingl_McCringleberry Aug 07 '22

🎶And I would walk 3233243955250984 miles and I would walk 3233243955250984 more🎶

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u/VideoAdditional3150 Aug 07 '22

Speaking of realities closeness. Isn’t alpha centuri (is that spelled right?) our closest star? And if so why don’t we have an even better picture of alpha? Because from the sound of the post it seems like this is THE best picture of another star. I would expect alpha to hold that title.

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

Yes, Alpha Centauri is the nearest star system. But its largest star has only 1.2 times the diameter of the Sun, whereas Antares is a giant star about 680 Sun-diameters across. Even though it's 125 times further away Antares has a larger apparent size.

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u/Jkay064 Aug 07 '22

Alpha Centuri is 1.2x bigger than the Sun.

Antares is 700x bigger.

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u/VideoAdditional3150 Aug 07 '22

Oooh. That explains a lot. Thanks for the info

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u/Important_Ant_Rant Aug 07 '22

Could JWST do even better?

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u/BrainSweetiesss Aug 07 '22

Can someone explain why we have a picture taken of a star 550 light years away from us when Alpha Centauri is about 4 l.y away? Is it because of its difference in size?

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u/Jessica_Ariadne Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 07 '22

Alpha Centauri A/B and Proxima Centauri are tiny compared to this monster.

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u/Rob_Thorsman Aug 07 '22

They're also over 100 times closer.

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u/GladiatorUA Aug 07 '22

Yeah but Alpha Centauri is 22% larger than the Sun. Proxima Centauri is one sevenths size of the Sun.

Antares is 700 times larger than the sun. And only 100 times more distant.

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u/Bruhtatochips23415 Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 07 '22

Proxima centauri viewed from earth is approximately .00000030598 degrees. You can approximate this by trying to see a ball that is a fiftieth of a millimeter, that is 20 micrometers, from 4 kilometers away. That is a ball who's diameter is 5 nanometers from 4 meters away, that's the width of 50 hydrogen atoms.

Antares viewed from earth is .000010418 degrees. That is like seeing a sphere with a diameter of 1 millimeter from 5 kilometers away. That is like seeing a ball who's diameter is 1 micrometer from 5 meters away. That is 8,333 hydrogen atoms side by side.

Alpha centauri: .0000011738 degrees. I do not feel like making a comparison for this.

Antares would appear to be about 300 times larger than proxima centauri. Antares would be about 10 times larger than alpha centauri A.

This is the more important calculation.

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u/aaronfranke Aug 07 '22

200 micrometers, from 4 kilometers away. That is a ball who's diameter is 5 nanometers from 4 meters away

Something's wrong with your math here. The ratio of 200 μm to 4 km is very different from 5 nm to 4 m.

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u/Bruhtatochips23415 Aug 07 '22

I accidentally added a single 0

It's an approximation theres a lot of decimals there so it still won't be the exact number but it's really as close as you're gonna get within reason for a demonstration

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u/Hripautom Aug 08 '22

Accidentally added a zero. This guy nasas.

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u/TheNorselord Aug 07 '22

so it appears visually 7x larger?

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u/notlikethesoup Aug 07 '22

More or less, not sure the exact magnitude but how big it is far outweighs how far away it is in comparison to proxima centauri

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u/Jessica_Ariadne Aug 07 '22

The EHT's first black hole image was also from another galaxy because the size of the black hole's influence made it easier to image than the one in our own galaxy (and we had dust clouds in the way, etc).

So when I see a pic like this I just assume it is something similar.

Proxima Centauri only has a mass about 12.5% of the sun, and can't even be seen with the naked eye, so it's out of contention. The other two stars in the system are sunlike, so while they will eventually balloon into red giants that are easier to image, they aren't quite there yet. The sun might as well be a point source compared to a full-blown red giant.

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u/deltuhvee Aug 07 '22

They are also several thousand times smaller.

The size ends up making the difference over the distance.

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u/wrongitsleviosaa Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

It comes down to Antares being about 4x as big as PC when viewed. Antares is massive.

Edit: 41x as big. Antares is MASSIVE.

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 07 '22

It comes down to Antares being about 4x as big as PC when viewed

You dropped a digit. Antares has a 41x larger angular size than Proxima Centauri.

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u/Scorpius_OB1 Aug 07 '22

Antares is at around 550 light years and it's roughly 700 times larger than the Sun. Alpha and Proxima Centauri are roughly 100 times closer and the former is approximately as large as the Sun while the latter is much smaller.

TL;DR Alpha Centauri should be roughly 7 times larger to appear as big as Antares in the sky, and Proxima still much more.

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u/Iopia Aug 07 '22

Just to add to this, Antares is around 680 times wider than the sun. That means it's around 460,000 times larger in terms of visible area. It's gargantuan.

And for anyone curious, that also means it's around 340 million times larger than the sun in terms of volume.

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u/Big_Larry_Long_Dong Aug 07 '22

To think such a thing actually exists.

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

And is still UTTERLY inconsequential in terms of size in space.

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u/Clavus Aug 07 '22

Its mass isn't all that much more than our sun though, only up to about 14 solar masses. It's very low density.

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u/GladiatorUA Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 07 '22

Yes. Antares is 700 times larger than the sun. AC is roughly similar size to the sun. So it's "bigger" even though it's much further away.

Similar to how the first super massive black hole image was a more distant one.

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

Yes, Alpha Centauri's largest star has only 1.2 times the diameter of the Sun, whereas Antares is a giant star about 680 Sun-diameters across. Even though it's 125 times further away Antares has a larger apparent size.

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u/Sir_Nelly Aug 07 '22

There we go, the magic words: apparent size

The biggest stars are so ridiculously big I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend it

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

Angular size comparison:

  • β Scorpii (Antares): 41.3 milliarcseconds
  • α Centauri: 7 milliarcseconds
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u/Redbelly98 Aug 07 '22

Yes, exactly. Antares is about 500-600 times larger in diameter, and about 110 times farther away. So its apparent size is about 5x larger (550/110) than Alpha Centauri A.

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u/Decronym Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 13 '22

Acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, contractions, and other phrases which expand to something larger, that I've seen in this thread:

Fewer Letters More Letters
ELT Extremely Large Telescope, under construction in Chile
ESO European Southern Observatory, builders of the VLT and EELT
JWST James Webb infra-red Space Telescope
L2 Lagrange Point 2 (Sixty Symbols video explanation)
Paywalled section of the NasaSpaceFlight forum
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VLT Very Large Telescope, Chile

6 acronyms in this thread; the most compressed thread commented on today has 31 acronyms.
[Thread #7792 for this sub, first seen 7th Aug 2022, 20:22] [FAQ] [Full list] [Contact] [Source code]

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u/Trax852 Aug 07 '22

For people like me: From here to Antares 554.5 light years.

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u/BusyGeezus Aug 07 '22

Im having trouble to comprehent how big this star is. I mean i know the estimated size, but there are even bigger stars out there

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u/Willsgb Aug 07 '22

Yeah, it's staggering. Our entire orbit around our sun that takes us a year to complete fits snuggly inside this star. And there are apparently stars out there that utterly dwarf this one.

Space is utterly insane and I love it.

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u/Chainweasel Aug 08 '22

If it were in our solar system the surface would be near the orbit of Jupiter if that helps visualize it.

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u/Masentaja73 Aug 07 '22

Was this taken by the Fucking Large Telescoope?

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u/SSJGokuPower Aug 07 '22

Actually it was the Very Fucking Large Telescope

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u/Opus_723 Aug 07 '22

Can't wait for the Overwhelmingly Fucking Telescope.

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u/red_ravenhawk Aug 07 '22

or for the Mind Bogglingly Humongous Fucking Telescope

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u/yahwol Aug 07 '22

is this gonna be the best we'll ever get? or is it possible that future technology will allow us to see stars in much higher quality, or is it physically impossible to get something higher quality because of how far the light traveled or something

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u/thefooleryoftom Aug 07 '22

Nothing is the best we’ll ever get yet. We can always build large telescopes. Some are being planned/built already

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

We could potentially do better. The VLT combines light using interferometry from multiple 8.2m telescopes, with the effective resolving power of a 200m scope. It would be possible to launch multiple space telescopes and use the same technique to effectively build a telescope many kilometres across.

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u/morbihann Aug 07 '22

ELT will be operational 2027 or so. It will have 38meter mirror. It will be the largeat telescope in our lifetime, probably.

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u/yahwol Aug 07 '22

up till that point, I still got 50-60 years left and hopefully get to witness something at the scale of the OWL telescope

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u/LitPixel Aug 07 '22

I’m dying in 2049. So hopefully that’s enough time for some interesting things.

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u/Middge Aug 08 '22

Your certainty unnerves me good sir.

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u/morbihann Aug 07 '22

Well, so do I , hopefully but Im not optimistic. ELT is a project from the 90s..

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 07 '22

This image was constructed using the VLT interferometer which combines light from up to 4 co-located telescopes to create a virtual telescope with a resolution equivalent to that of a 200 meter mirror.

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/DruidPC Aug 07 '22

Does this mean we can finally take a close up of Betelgeuse?

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u/KnightOfWords Aug 07 '22

Here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse#/media/File:Eso2003c.jpg

Its appearance changed quite dramatically during the recent dimming episode. It also seems to be even more blobby than Antares.

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u/Wanna_b_golfer Aug 07 '22

Did anyone else keep clicking on the image so it would clear up?

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u/GoTeamScotch Aug 07 '22

If it works, there's a few scientists in Chile who would very much appreciate if you sent them a copy.

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u/Naamibro Aug 07 '22

Why don't we just use CSI Miami's software to enhance, enhance again, zoom in, enhance, focus, clear up the image, and enhance, then it's crystal clear.

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u/Nois3 Aug 07 '22

They should have named the star Jpeg.

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u/Tacitblue1973 Aug 07 '22

Had a gander at Antares a few nights ago, low on the horizon so seeing wasn't that great. But I toured around the core. Saw Lagoon, Swan, Eagle, a few clusters including M54. Not often good conditions here but got lucky just after the new moon.

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/fantalemon Aug 07 '22 edited Aug 07 '22

20 years ago the best photo we had of Pluto looked like this, now it looks like this.

We might not be sending a probe to Antares any time soon, but the rate of change and improvement in these things is crazy. I wouldn't be shocked if we have high-res photos of other stars, maybe even exoplanets, in the next 10-15 years.

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u/putsonall Aug 07 '22

Eh, I don't think it'll work that linearly unfortunately.

The reason we have such an incredible photo of Pluto is because a probe flew right past it.

We won't be sending probes near exoplanets anytime soon.

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u/BillyIGuesss Aug 08 '22

I hate it when people are unimpressed with pics like this because they're so used to high definition crisp photos. They forget what this is an image of! (Side note, this better not be another sausage)

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u/[deleted] Aug 07 '22

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u/frumundacheeze Aug 08 '22

can someone explain why this is the best we can do but we choose a star that is 550 light years away? Couldn't we get better resolution if we chose one less than 50 light years away?

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 08 '22 edited Aug 08 '22

As viewed from Earth, Antares is the 5th largest star in the sky (the Sun being #1). The other 3 are R Doradus, Mira, and Betelgeuse – all of which are more than 200 ly away.

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u/TheDwarvenGuy Aug 08 '22

What people don't realize about stars is that most stars are smaller than a single pixel in even the best of telescopes. The only reason some stars look bigger than others in pictures is because they're brighter. The only reason we're able to get images like this with multiplenpixels is through interferrometry, where you measure the difference in waves of light from multiple telescopes on the opposite side of the earth and use it to simulate one giant telescope, the size of the earth. That's also how we got those photos of blackholes.

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 08 '22

interferrometry, where you measure the difference in waves of light from multiple telescopes on the opposite side of the earth and use it to simulate one giant telescope, the size of the earth.

Signals recorded simultaneously at widely separated radio telescopes can be digitally combined later to achieve a resolution equivalent to a telescope as large as the separation between the receivers.

We don't have the technology to do post-processing interferometry at visible wavelengths like we do in the radio part of the EM spectrum.

Optical interferometry must physically combine the light from multiple telescopes co-located within a small radius, perhaps 100-200 meters.

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u/Franklinia_Alatamaha Aug 07 '22

Wonder if the JWST could improve on this even more.

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u/the_fungible_man Aug 07 '22

Nope. Image resolution is a function of wavelengths observed (smaller better) and size of the optics (larger better). JWST collects IR light with a 6 meter mirror.

The VLTI which recorded this image observes visible light (smaller than IR) and can combine the light from up to four telescopes to create a virtual telescope equivalent to a single mirror up to 200 meters across. This allows it to resolve fine details far beyond what can be seen with a single telescope alone.

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u/Omicron_Lux Aug 07 '22

That is amazing, do they have issues getting the wavefronts and everything lined up between the different telescopes? I need to go down the rabbit hole on this lol, I did not realize we could do this for visible wavelengths

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u/SnapFlash Aug 08 '22

There's another reply mentioning how crisp the image quality is for how far away it is, but people kind of brush that off unless they're given the real scale of it, so basically:

Antares is 5.25x10¹⁵ kilometers in distance from earth. It comfortably crosses past the billions and trillions status into something more: quadrillions.

You know how going back and forth from the moon took humans a few weeks? Yeah, so the distance from earth to the moon is 384,400 kilometers (round trip is 768,800 kilometers).

Traveling to Antares by rocket is like that, but keep going back and forth between the earth and the moon.

6 and a half billion times.

It's a wonder we have a picture of this thing at all, really.