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First images obtained with AMBER
lundi 23 février 2009

Two A&A papers publish the first VLTI images ever made and show that, already today, AMBER is able to image stellar surfaces and very close binary orbits.

JPEG - 27.6 ko
The Mira star T Leporis
This image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer is one of the sharpest colour images ever made. It shows the Mira-like star T Leporis in great detail. The central disc is the surface of the star, which is surrounded by a spherical shell of molecular material expelled from the star. In this image, obtained by combining hundreds of interferometric measurements, the blue channel includes infrared light from 1.4 to 1.6 micrometres, the green, from 1.6 to 1.75 micrometres, and the red, from 1.75 to 1.9 micrometres. In the green channel, the molecular envelope is thinner, and appears as a thin ring around the star.
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The orbit of Theta1 Orionis C
The first VLTI image is that of the double star Theta1 Orionis C in the Orion Nebula Trapezium. These and several other observations allow the full orbit of the two stars in the system to be obtained and the total mass of the two stars (47 solar masses) and their distance from us (1350 light-years) to be derived.

For more information :
- ESO press release 06/09
- A&A press release (also in highlights)
- MPIfR PR 2009/04 (1/2) : english, german
- MPG SP / 2009 (54) (german)

Based on two articles, to appear soon in Astronomy & Astrophysics :

  1. Pre-maximum spectro-imaging of the Mira star T Lep with AMBER/VLTI
    J.-B. Le Bouquin et al., 2009, A&A in press
  2. Tracing the young massive high-eccentricity binary system Theta 1 Orionis C through periastron passage
    S. Kraus et al., 2009, A&A in press

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