Betelgeuse is getting strange

No — not this one!

” Normally, Betelgeuse is among the 10 brightest stars in the sky. However, the red giant began dimming in October, and by mid-December, the star had faded so much it wasn’t even in the top 20, Villanova University’s Edward Guinan reported in an Astronomer’s Telegram.

“Now the outline of Orion is noticeably different with Betelgeuse so faint,” he says…

” To be clear, dimming alone isn’t all that odd for a star like Betelgeuse. It’s what’s known as a variable star, and its shifts in brightness have been closely studied for decades. However, it is unusual for one of the sky’s most prominent points of light to fade so noticeably, prompting scientists to consider the possibility that something more exciting could be about to happen: Betelgeuse might explode and die, briefly blazing brighter than the full moon before vanishing from our night sky forever.

Huge, red stars like Betelgeuse live fast and die violently, exploding in stellar events called supernovae that are visible across vast distances. So, while Betelgeuse is a relatively young star—only about 8.5 million years old—astronomers know that it is nearing the end of its life.

Don’t hold your breath, waiting. Our Fake President will stop lying – or the GOP will tax wealth — before this star probably goes supernova.

10 thoughts on “Betelgeuse is getting strange

  1. Si-fi Guy says:

    Updates on the “Fainting” of Betelgeuse, 23 Dec 2019; 20:24 UT

    Keep in mind that Betelgeuse is 650 light years from Earth so it takes light 650 years to reach us and if it ends its life as a supernova that would have happened 650 years ago. In any case, not to worry

    A light year equals about 9.5 trillion kilometers, or 63,240 times the distance from Earth to the Sun. Multiply 9.3 trillion kilometers by 650 to get the distance to Betelgeuse of 650 x 9.3 = 6,045 trillion kilometers [6 thousand trillion kilometers and change]. One thousand trillion is one quadrillion so Betelgeuse’s distance is roughly 6 quadrillion kilometers from our dying planet.

    “The Nine Billion Names of God” is a 1953 science fiction short story by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. The story was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards.
    In 2003, Clarke reported having been told that the Dalai Lama had found the story “very amusing”.

  2. J Sloan says:

    Sorry you had to ruin your article by placing a political slam at the end. Some of us are happy to see America do so well economically.

    • eideard says:

      Fairly close to a non-sequitur. Attempting to ascribe positive economic value to any of trump’s flailing incompetence is absurd at best. I manage my own retirement account – which has maintained the direction I established when I took it over after the Great Recession. It slowed a bit when dotard got his backdoor entry into the White House; but, stays well ahead of any ETF fund averages. Which couldn’t possibly happen if I paid any heed to his blather.

      No reason to think the technogeeks responsible for 40% of persistent growth in the last decade plus good old fashioned sensible management in leading sectors in the balance of our economy would give away credit to a rightwing lout.

      Now – aside from disagreeing with your political economics, I think your criticism is perfectly reasonable. One I considered beforehand. I’ll reflect upon that – no doubt – next time the occasion arises.

  3. Major Tom says:

    “Betelgeuse’s shenanigans just got weirder: Only *part* of it is dimming”
    A new extremely high-resolution image of the star Betelgeuse shows its actual disk in December 2019. It appears to be dimmer in its lower half, which is likely tied to its recent dimming to less than 40% of its normal brightness.
    Also: a before-and-after set of images of Betelgeuse show how it’s changed from January 2019 (left) to December 2019 (right).

  4. Space case says:

    “Dimming Betelgeuse likely isn’t cold, just dusty, new study shows” (University of Washington 3/6/20)
    In a paper accepted to Astrophysical Journal Letters and published on the preprint site arXiv, Emily Levesque, a UW associate professor of astronomy, and Philip Massey, an astronomer with Lowell Observatory, report that observations of Betelgeuse taken Feb. 14 at the Flagstaff, Arizona, observatory allowed them to calculate the average surface temperature of the star. They discovered that Betelgeuse is significantly warmer than expected if the recent dimming were caused by a cooling of the star’s surface.
    The new calculations lend support to the theory that Betelgeuse — as many red supergiant stars are prone to do — has likely sloughed off some material from its outer layers.

    A visible-light image of VY Canis Majoris, a red supergiant star that is largely obscured by dust, taken in 2005 (NASA/ESA/R. Humphreys/University of Minnesota)

  5. Update says:

    “Betelgeuse’s odd recent dimming was caused by a huge cloud of material that the supergiant star blasted into space, a new study suggests.”
    “The bright star Betelgeuse, which forms the shoulder of the constellation Orion (The Hunter), is about 11 times more massive than the sun but 900 times more voluminous. That bloated condition shows that Betelgeuse is near death, which will come in the form of a violent supernova explosion.
    …The researchers studied the star in 2019 and 2020 using NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble’s observations from September through November 2019 revealed huge amounts of material moving from Betelgeuse’s surface to its outer atmosphere at tremendous speeds — about 200,000 mph (320,000 km/h).
    During this three-month-long outburst, Betelgeuse lost about twice as much material to space from its southern hemisphere as it normally does, study team members said. (Betelgeuse’s background shedding rate is significant, by the way — about 30 million times that of our sun.)
    This superhot plasma, or electrically charged gas, cooled considerably after traveling millions of miles from Betelgeuse, condensing into dust grains and forming a light-blocking cloud, the scientists suggested in the new study, which was published online today (Aug. 13) in The Astrophysical Journal.”

    This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star’s surface. In panel three, the outflowing, expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star’s surface. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI))

  6. Update says:

    “Betelgeuse going Critical” (April 26, 2021)
    “Instead of Betelgeuse, Keep Your eye on AG Carinae, Another Star That’s About to go Supernova” (May 2, 2021)
    “Rare ‘Alien’ Isotopes in Earth’s Crust Point to Recent Brush With a Cataclysmic Event” (May 14, 2021) “The finding could tell us a thing or two about cataclysmic cosmic events taking place within a few hundred light-years from Earth, and relatively recently in our geological history. It could also shine a light on the way atomic heavyweights form.”

  7. DOA says:

    “8 Things To Know About The Unrealized Beetlejuice Sequel”
    “The plot of “Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian” saw Betelgeuse becoming a hero. In the opening act, Charles would move the Deetz family to Hawaii in order to build a resort there. His company is building on the burial site of an ancient Hawaiian Kāhuna.
    The Kāhuna’s returning spirit would be the sequel’s main villain. Somehow, that would’ve culminated in Betelgeuse saving the day by using magic to win a surfing contest.”
    In another version (1991) Betelgeuse went to the White House to haunt the Clinton family.

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