Spatially resolving the surfaces of nearby stars promises to advance our knowledge of stellar physics. Using optical long-baseline interferometry, we constructed a near-infrared image of the rapidly rotating hot star Altair with a resolution of <1 milliarcsecond. The image clearly reveals the strong effect of gravity darkening on the highly distorted stellar photosphere. Standard models for a uniformly rotating star cannot explain our findings, which appear to result from differential rotation, alternative gravity-darkening laws, or both.
- RAPIDLY ROTATING STAR
- CHARA ARRAY