We present an interferometric study of the continuum surface of the red supergiant star Betelgeuse at 11.15 μm wavelength, using data obtained with the Berkeley Infrared Spatial Interferometer each year between 2006 and 2010. These data allow an investigation of an optically thick layer within 1.4 stellar radii of the photosphere. The layer has an optical depth of ∼1 at 11.15 μm, and varies in temperature between 1900 K and 2800 K and in outer radius between 1.16 and 1.36 stellar radii. Electron–hydrogen-atom collisions contribute significantly to the opacity of the layer. The layer has a non-uniform intensity distribution that changes between observing epochs. These results indicate that large-scale surface convective activity strongly influences the dynamics of the inner atmosphere of Betelgeuse and mass-loss processes
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