ESO / K. Ohnaka

Scientists at the European Southern Observatory have captured the most detailed image of a star other than the Sun by mapping the motions of the surface of the red supergiant Antares — 550 lightyears from Earth.

  • How they did it: The ESO used its Very Large Telescope Interferometer in Chile, which combines light from four different telescopes to create a virtual telescope more than 650 feet across.
  • What they were looking for: Scientists wanted to figure out why Antares is losing mass during the final stages of its life as it approaches supernova, discovering in the process that Antares is likely undergoing a previously unknown type of stellar energy transfer.
  • Why it matters: From Keiichi Ohnaka, the head of the team: "In the future, this observing technique can be applied to different types of stars to study their surfaces and atmospheres in unprecedented detail…Our work brings stellar astrophysics to a new dimension and opens an entirely new window to observe stars."

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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

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Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.