Antares is the brightest star in the Rho Opiuchi nebula.

The brightest star in our galaxy, Antares, has been photographed in the highest amount of detail yet known by astronomers from the Southern European Observatory using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer.

The use of the telescope was required by astronomers who have been hoping to learn more about the life and death of supergiant stars for many years; by using the latest technologies, a number of impressive finds have been reported to change the understanding of some of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Learning More About The Death Of Stars

The Southern European Observatory is located in Chile and has recently been focused on the constellation Scorpio’s supergiant star, Antares. Astronomers focused the four telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer on the star with a diameter more than 700 times that of the Sun.

One of the main reasons for the interest in Antares by Earth-bound astronomers is the fact the star is expected to explode and become a supernova in the future.

close-up of Antares

Credit : ESO/K. Ohnaka

Scientists have been confused over the reasons for the rapid loss of mass from stars as they near the end of their lives since the middle of the 20th-century. Astronomers from Chile and across the planet discovered new information over the course of their study of Antares, including a major eruption of gas driving the loss of mass of the star.

As with many scientific discoveries, new problems are posed by the discovery including which forces are driving the eruptions of gas and turbulent atmosphere of Antares.

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Chile-based astronomer, Keiichi Ohnaka, explained the latest study of Antares is just one of many steps to be taken if a thorough understanding of the death of giant stars is to be understood. The success seen with the study of Antares should be transferred to other stars as the gaps in the knowledge of astronomers continue to be filled.

Image Source: Flickr

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