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The Question

(Submitted March 03, 1997)

Are there any clear and real photos of any red or blue giants? If there are, where can I find them?

The Answer

Stars are so small on the sky that they appear as points in optical telescopes. There is only one case that we are aware of where a resolved picture of a star was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (resolved) means that the resolution of the telescope was high enough to see structure or any spatial extent). The star was Betelgeuse, a red supergiant which is the "largest" star in the sky (other than the Sun, of course) in terms of its angular size. By this we mean how big the star appears in the telescope, as opposed to its physical size. The paper on this includes pictures and can be found in the Astrophysical Journal, volume 463:L29L32, 1996 May 20. This periodical is, unfortunately, usually only found at Universities or Research Institutions.

Here is are links to the image of Betelgeuse and its caption. http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/96/04.html and http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap980419.html

Steve Drake and Andy Ptak
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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