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May 29, 2018

Granulation patterns on the surface of a star

Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope have for the first time directly observed granulation patterns on the surface of a star outside the solar system -- the aging cool red giant Gruis. This new image from the PIONIER instrument reveals the convective cells that make up the surface of this huge star, which has 350 times the diameter of the sun. Each cell covers more than a quarter of the star’s diameter and measures about 120 million kilometres across.

[This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant AST 14-45935, "Algorithms developed as part of the NSF AAG: Imaging Planet-Forming Disks and Stellar Surfaces: An Integrated Program of New Observations and Algorithm Development Grant."] (Date image taken: December 2017; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: May 29, 2018)

Credit: Claudia Paladini, ESO; and Fabien Baron, Georgia State University

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