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Astronomers open up the interior of huge blue supergiant stars

7 May 2019, 09:48 UTC
Astronomers open up the interior of huge blue supergiant stars
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Blue supergiant – a snapshot of the interior of a star three times as heavy as our Sun, which shows waves generated by turbulent core convection. Image credit: Dr Tamara Rogers
Before space telescopes, few blue supergiants had been observed, so our knowledge of these stars was limited.
Leading astrophysicist Dr Tamara Rogers, from Newcastle University, United Kingdom, and her team have been working for the past five years to create simulations of stars like these to try to predict what it is that makes the surface appear the way it does.
Modelling the interior of stars, the team predicted that gravity waves, like those we see in the ocean, could break at the surface of stars.
A second type of wave had also been predicted. These coherent waves are similar to the seismic waves on Earth, which are generated from deep within the star.
Now, using data collected by the NASA space telescopes, an international team of experts led by KU Leuven in Belgium, have observed the star for the first time and discovered that almost all of these elusive blue giants do in fact shimmer and ripple in brightness due to the presence of waves on their surface.

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