Radiative hydrodynamics simulations of red supergiant stars: II. simulations of convection on Betelgeuse match interferometric observations
Context. The red supergiant (RSG) Betelgeuse is an irregular variable star. Convection may play an important role in understanding this variability. Interferometric observations can be interpreted using sophisticated simulations of stellar convection. Aims. We compare the visibility curves and closure phases obtained from our 3D simulation of RSG convection with CO5BOLD to various interferometric observations of Betelgeuse from the optical to the H band in order to characterize and measure the convection pattern on this star. Methods. We use 3D radiative-hydrodynamics (RHD) simulation to compute intensity maps in different filters and we thus derive interferometric observables using the post-processing radiative transfer code OPTIM3D. The synthetic visibility curves and closure phases are compared to observations. Results. We provide a robust detection of the granulation pattern on the surface of Betelgeuse in the optical and in the H band based on excellent fits to the observed visibility points and closure phases. Moreover, we determine that the Betelgeuse surface in the H band is covered by small to medium scale (5-15 mas) convection-related surface structures and a large (30 mas) convective cell. In this spectral region, H2O molecules are the main absorbers and contribute to the small structures and to the position of the first null of the visibility curve (i.e. the apparent stellar radius).