Astronomers took one of the most-detailed images ever of a star

With help from the aptly named Very Large Telescope, the European Southern Observatory just captured the most detailed image ever of a star outside our solar system.

The star is called Antares, and it's about 550 light-years away from Earth in the center of the constellation Scorpius.

Astronomers are tracking the red supergiant through its later stages before it becomes a supernova.

SEE MORE: The Brightest Supernova Ever Was Really A Black Hole Shredding A Star

RELATED: Images from NASA on the largest batch of Earth-size, habitable zone planets

Images from NASA on the largest batch of Earth-size, habitable zone planets
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Images from NASA on the largest batch of Earth-size, habitable zone planets
This chart shows, on the top row, artist concepts of the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, radii and masses as compared to those of Earth. On the bottom row, the same numbers are displayed for the bodies of our inner solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The TRAPPIST-1 planets orbit their star extremely closely, with periods ranging from 1.5 to only about 20 days. This is much shorter than the period of Mercury, which orbits our sun in about 88 days.
This poster imagines what a trip to TRAPPIST-1e might be like.
This artist's concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius.
This data plot shows infrared observations by NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope of a system of seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultracool dwarf star. Over 21 days, Spitzer measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone where liquid water might be found.
The TRAPPIST-1 system contains a total of seven planets, all around the size of Earth. Three of them -- TRAPPIST-1e, f and g -- dwell in their star’s so-called “habitable zone.” The habitable zone, or Goldilocks zone, is a band around every star (shown here in green) where astronomers have calculated that temperatures are just right -- not too hot, not too cold -- for liquid water to pool on the surface of an Earth-like world. 

This artist's concept appeared on the February 23rd, 2017 cover of the journal Nature announcing that the TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. Any of these planets could have liquid water on them. Planets that are farther from the star are more likely to have significant amounts of ice, especially on the side that faces away from the star.


They think Antares once had a mass 15 times more than the sun's. The distant star has shed three solar masses since then, but its diameter is still 700 times larger than ours.

Beyond looking cool, the photos have scientific value. The ESO said the images could debunk a theory about why some stars lose so much mass before they die.

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