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Betelgeuse On The Brink ?

PostPosted: December 27th, 2019, 10:18 am
by toucana
Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) the second brightest star in the constellation of Orion may be on the brink of a giant supernova explosion, according to a new study published on 8th December.

The star is a red super-giant of the M1-2 spectral type located some 700 light years from earth. Betelegeuse has been known from antiquity by arab astronomers as بط الجوزاء ‘ibt al-jauza’; meaning ‘the armpit of Orion’. It entered the Alphonsine Tables under a Latinised version of that name in 1252 when a stellar catalogue was compiled in Toledo in Spain by Sephardic Jews working under the patronage of King Alfonso X.

This bright red star at the top left corner of Orion is a well-known variable star whose apparent brightness often fluctuates considerably. Sir John Herschel was the first modern astronomer to study the variations of brightness in a systematic way from 1836 onwards.

Ed Guinan, an astronomy professor at Villanova University, was the lead author on a December 8 paper entitled "The Fainting of the Nearby Supergiant Betelgeuse."

He notes that Betelgeuse has been declining in brightness sharply since October, and was now about 2.5 times fainter than usual. Once the ninth brightest star in the sky, Betelgeuse has fallen now to about the 23rd brightest.

In the last half-century, the star has never dimmed so aggressively, and that could mean we're on the verge of something extraordinary.

Betelgeuse is known to be one of the most likely candidates to produce a nearby supernova explosion as it is already some nine million years old, and stars of this class normally have a lifespan of around ten million years.

If it does explode, Betelgeuse would become a vibrant glowing blue object that would be clearly visible in daylight for at least three months, and would take up to a year to fade out.

Re: Betelgeuse On The Brink ?

PostPosted: December 27th, 2019, 2:36 pm
by TheVat
Would I be correct in assuming that "nine million" is actually nine billion, for the age of the fainting star? (EDIT: I see that nine million is correct, and now remember that massive stars like Betelgeuse do have short lifespans)

I hope exploding armpits is not a trend in our constellations.

Hope you all had a good Christmas or Chanukkah or Festivus or whatever near-solstice celebrations you may indulge in!

Re: Betelgeuse On The Brink ?

PostPosted: January 7th, 2020, 9:47 pm
by TheVat ... to-explode

More of the supernova basics on a public radio interview.,