Friday, June 1, 2007

Altair's Surface Mapped for the First Time

For the first time in astronomy history, the surface of a star other than the sun has been mapped. The star to get this distinction is Altair, the alpha star of the constellation Aquila. The clear disk of the star was made from a collection of near-infrared light-images from telescopes all over the world. The findings suggest that Altair is a rapidly rotating star with hot poles sandwiching a cooler and thicker equator. The map will be used by scientists to makde deductions on the insides of the star and how it works. John Monnier of the University of Michigan says "Because we have the highest resolution in the world, we are able to image a star a million times farther away than the sun." Altair is the bright star (center-left) in the picture of Aquila on the left.

No comments: