Betelgeuse getting ready to supernova?
#1
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Depends on who you ask, but Betelgeuse, the red supergiant in Orion's shoulder about 700 light-years away, estimated to be almost as big in diameter as the orbit of Jupiter, has been dimming at a rate and degree never before observed in the modern era of astrometry. This could signify nothing more than the low ebb in multiple cycles of its variability (Red giants are for many reasons variable by nature, on regular cycles and due to random factors like being obscured by its own dust it emits at times).

On the other hand, it could be starting to collapse for the last time, which would be the prelude to a drastic change. Astronomers aren't even sure whether its core would become a neutron star, or will be massive enough to collapse to a black hole. The former possibility would produce a spectacular Type II supernova, which would briefly outshine the full moon as viewed from Earth. While a black hole would be more intriguing in theory (pity Stephen Hawking had to miss it!), that possibility would probably not generate nearly as bright a light show initially. After all is said and done, Orion the Hunter's right shoulder would be gone, replaced perhaps by a nebula similar to that of the Crab Nebula but probably more visible with little or no optical assistance as it expands.

Of course, an active new black hole accretion disk might be a pretty interesting thing to observe only 700 ly away, too!

A type II supernova blast would give the Orion constellation two intriguing nebulae, added to the well-known relatively nearby star-forming region in Orion's irregularly shaped "sword".

Here's one of many articles on the subject, from the UK Daily Mail.

"Scientific consensus" is that Betelgeuse only has about 100,000 more years to go. The explosion could become visible from Earth then, or tonight, for all we know for sure. (Of course, whatever we see it doing now, it actually did some 700 years ago!) Your odds of winning a major lottery are said to be better than living to see it go supernova, but we just don't know for sure, one way or another!
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#2
I still find myself amused by the idea that anything 700 light-years away is "about" to do something. If we see anything happen in the next few years it will have happened hundreds of years ago.
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#3
Heh! True! One of those little habits of speech, of mere mortals whose lifespans are ordained by Eru to be short in the reckoning of Ea!
I meant of course to say that the light from a supernova explosion or other spectacular change that may have happened 700 yrs ago might soon reach us!
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#4
(February 14th, 2020, 01:13 AM)Alvin Eriol Wrote: Heh! True! One of those little habits of speech, of mere mortals whose lifespans are ordained by Eru to be short in the reckoning of Ea!
I meant of course to say that the light from a supernova explosion or other spectacular change that may have happened 700 yrs ago might soon reach us!

You did fine. I've read 2 or 3 articles about this so far and they put it as you did. I guess everyone is just accustomed to describe things in real-time.
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#5
Article in Ars Technica today points out that on closer inspection by telescopes capable of resolving Betelgeuse's disk, the dimming isn't even, but rather "lopsided".

In their view, that argues for the "Nahhh! No big deal!" school of thought, i.e. the dimming was probably caused by dust clouds covering only part of the star!
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