Volume 602, June 2017
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||20 June 2017|
The inhomogeneous submillimeter atmosphere of Betelgeuse
1 Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 31 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
2 Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía (CNRS UMI 3386), Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
3 LESIA (UMR 8109), Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, UPMC, Univ. Paris-Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
4 Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, University of Colorado, 389 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
5 JBCA, Department Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
6 Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D B2401, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
7 Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, 300 rue de la Piscine, 38406 Saint-Martin d’ Hères, France
Received: 15 May 2017
Accepted: 6 June 2017
The mechanisms responsible for heating the extended atmospheres of early-M spectral-type supergiants are poorly understood. So too is the subsequent role these mechanisms play in driving the large mass-loss rates of these stars. Here we present ALMA long (i.e., ~16 km) baseline 338 GHz (0.89 mm) continuum observations of the free-free emission in the extended atmosphere of the M2 spectral-type supergiant Betelgeuse. The spatial resolution of 14 mas exquisitely resolves the atmosphere, revealing it to have a mean temperature of 2760 K at ~1.3 R⋆, which is below both the photospheric effective temperature (Teff = 3690 K) and the temperatures at ~2 R⋆. This is unambiguous proof for the existence of an inversion of the mean temperature in the atmosphere of a red supergiant. The emission is clearly not spherically symmetric with two notable deviations from a uniform disk detected in both the images and visibilities. The most prominent asymmetry is located in the north-east quadrant of the disk and is spatially resolved showing it to be highly elongated with an axis-ratio of 2.4 and occupying ~5% of the disk projected area. Its temperature is approximately 1000 K above the measured mean temperature at 1.3 R⋆. The other main asymmetry is located on the disk limb almost due east of the disk center and occupies ~3% of the disk projected area. Both emission asymmetries are clear evidence for localized heating taking place in the atmosphere of Betelgeuse. We suggest that the detected localized heating is related to magnetic activity generated by large-scale photospheric convection.
Key words: stars: atmospheres / stars: evolution / stars: imaging / stars: individual: Betelgeuse / submillimeter: stars
© ESO, 2017
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