This image is the first ever captured of a giant star outside our solar system in detail (even though it looks like resolution from 50 years ago). It is a huge step forward for science’s overall understanding and comparison of the theories and expected behavior of stars different than our own sun. This star is 350 times larger than our sun and resembles what our sun will become at the end of its life (don’t worry, it’s not for another 5 billion years). It is an evolved star in its last phase of life, and believe it or not this simple image gives scientists immense knowledge about the future activity and characteristics of our sun.
Dr. Fabien Baron, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University, stated “There’s a limit to the details we can see based on the size of the telescope used for the observations. For this paper, we used an interferometer. The light from several telescopes is combined to overcome the limit of each telescope, thus achieving a resolution equivalent to that of a much larger telescope.” This picture displays the star having a complex pattern of convection cells on its surface. Convection plays a huge part in processes like energy transport, pulsation, and solar winds. Its surface is also free of dust, a challenge that has plagued many astronomers who have tried to capture images of giant stars in the past.