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Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse, the big, red, bright star in the shoulder of the constellation of Orion, isn't bright anymore, and that might be a prelude to something big. Betelgeuse is a huge red giant. How huge? It's radius would extend to somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. That huge. Huge stars tend to burn out quicker, and the red color plus its size means that Betelgeuse has already fused it's hydrogen and is now fusing helium, producing carbon and oxygen. Once the helium is gone, it collapses until it fuses that, producing iron. But once it produces iron, that's the end of the line. The star collapses, and explodes in a supernova.

When Betelgeuse does let go, it will be a sight to behold. We're far enough away that all it will really do is light up our sky. There's a possibility that it could be as bright as a full moon, and visible in the daytime.

This makes the dimming very interesting. Is it collapsing and about to let go? Well, "about" in terms of the light reaching us. Betelgeuse is around 700 light years away, so it could have already exploded, but we just haven't seen it yet. Don't know. When an offspring let me know Betelgeuse had dimmed, that was the first thing that went through our minds.

There's some thought that this might not be a prelude to something spectacular. Betelgeuse is a variable star and has dimmed before, just not this much. But it still makes me go "Hmm."

This evening, despite some clouds, I was able to see Orion and yes, Betelgeuse is a dim shadow of it's former self. I'm usually not good at seeing star color with the naked eye, but I could clearly see that Betelgeuse is red. And yes, I sort of hoped I would be looking at it when it went supernova.

So, as was said in another movie, watch the skies. Who knows? Betelgeuse might go supernova in our lifetime. Maybe even while we're looking at it.
 
Casual Observation 12/30/19:

My reference for Betelgeuse's magnitude has been Bellatrix, the star forming Orion's other shoulder. Bellatrix is a magnitude 1.64 star, and normally dimmer than Betelgeuse, which is about 0.42. This is entirely subjective, but on 12/27/19, it seemed that Betelgeuse was about the same magnitude, if not a little dimmer. Color could be throwing me off here. As mentioned, I don't normally see star colors well with the naked eye.

Tonight Betelgeuse looked brighter. Not as bright as normal, but it seemed brighter than Bellatrix. Does this mean Betelgeuse is already brightening? Don't know. Haven't found confirmation, and all this is subjective. Might be fun to compare Betelgeuse with Bellatrix for a quick and dirty estimate of brightness.
 

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Remember when the Crab Nebula blew? Good times. :a39:🦀

Betelgeuse would indeed be a sight to behold. Going to mess up my favorite constellation though.


AA 🌎🌟💫✨
 
Remember when the Crab Nebula blew? Good times. :a39:🦀

Betelgeuse would indeed be a sight to behold. Going to mess up my favorite constellation though.


AA 🌎🌟💫✨
At this point I'm just thinking about the variable star thing. If it goes supernova, there should be an initial flash before gradual brightening. If it's just fluctuating, there shouldn't be a flash. It might be brightening as it has before.
 
Estimate, and not being snarky. A surprising amount of astronomy is relatively recent. Have seen early 20th Century books describe the Andromeda Nebula. The idea that there might be galaxies beyond our own is barely a century old. There's so much that isn't known, and that makes astronomy interesting.

For instance, a little digging in search of Betelgeuse's variability turned up a theory that it was part of a binary system with a companion of about 1 solar mass orbiting about where the outer radius of the red giant is today. Where's the companion star now? The theory goes Betelgeuse "consumed" it as it expanded, and that might account for the shell of dust around the star. But Betelgeuse might not have "digested" its companion yet, meaning much of the mass is still holding together within the star.

OTOH, if this is what happened when Betelgeuse expanded, its companion was likely still fusing hydrogen. So if it was consumed by Betelgeuse, what if most of its gasses is still in the outer shell? Sort of like a stellar Leatherface. Betelgeuse might look younger than it really is.
 

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Estimate, and not being snarky. A surprising amount of astronomy is relatively recent. Have seen early 20th Century books describe the Andromeda Nebula. The idea that there might be galaxies beyond our own is barely a century old. There's so much that isn't known, and that makes astronomy interesting.

For instance, a little digging in search of Betelgeuse's variability turned up a theory that it was part of a binary system with a companion of about 1 solar mass orbiting about where the outer radius of the red giant is today. Where's the companion star now? The theory goes Betelgeuse "consumed" it as it expanded, and that might account for the shell of dust around the star. But Betelgeuse might not have "digested" its companion yet, meaning much of the mass is still holding together within the star.

OTOH, if this is what happened when Betelgeuse expanded, its companion was likely still fusing hydrogen. So if it was consumed by Betelgeuse, what if most of its gasses is still in the outer shell? Sort of like a stellar Leatherface. Betelgeuse might look younger than it really is.
The 100K years is absolutely an estimate. There is also still discussion regarding the weight of Betelgeuse (in solar masses) which will also impact any estimate.

So much of Astronomy is theory. It is fascinating to see the theories evolve as we gain more information and knowledge.

I sometimes wonder if we, as humans, will ever have the capacity to fully understand the universe?
 

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The 100K years is absolutely an estimate. There is also still discussion regarding the weight of Betelgeuse (in solar masses) which will also impact any estimate.

So much of Astronomy is theory. It is fascinating to see the theories evolve as we gain more information and knowledge.

I sometimes wonder if we, as humans, will ever have the capacity to fully understand the universe?
In the fullness of time, or perhaps with help.

AA
 
Love astronomy. Just incredibly fascinating. Yet so many people find it extremely boring. One sad thing about passing away some day is that I'll miss out on so many discoveries. I guess every generation for eternity can say that.
 

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Love astronomy. Just incredibly fascinating. Yet so many people find it extremely boring. One sad thing about passing away some day is that I'll miss out on so many discoveries. I guess every generation for eternity can say that.
Truth. If antigravity isn't discovered in my lifetime - or a recognized first contact - I'll definitely be disappointed.

I DID see the moon landing, so. It isn't a total wash!

One young co-worker - I almost said "kids today" - didn't even remember the SHUTTLE, much less the achievements of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Why didn't the Romans have gunpowder? They just didn't put it together. So it is with antigravity; the possibility is there, we chimps just haven't put it together yet. I can tell you others are using it ... 🕶 or maybe I can't.


AA
 
The idea of antigravity is interesting, but if gravity is the result of the curvature of space and time, then it might not be possible. Way over my head, though. Have a hard enough time visualizing how the curvature of space-time would make gravity by asking what if an object were perfectly stationary in respect to the gravity well. It would seem that one or both objects would have to be in motion for one to "fall" toward the other by following the curvature of space-time. Unless "time's arrow" is motion.

Sigh.

Really wish I had a handle on this stuff.
 

never-stop-learning

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Anti-gravity has been the dream of science fiction writers since they've been writing science fiction.

The force required to neutralize/overcome gravity would be immense.

Humanity might evolve to the point where we no longer need to be physical beings before we figure out anti-gravity. ;)
 

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The idea of antigravity is interesting, but if gravity is the result of the curvature of space and time, then it might not be possible. Way over my head, though. Have a hard enough time visualizing how the curvature of space-time would make gravity by asking what if an object were perfectly stationary in respect to the gravity well. It would seem that one or both objects would have to be in motion for one to "fall" toward the other by following the curvature of space-time. Unless "time's arrow" is motion.

Sigh.

Really wish I had a handle on this stuff.
Brian Greene and Michio Kaku have been trying to beat it into me, but I'm denser than depleted uranium, myself.


AA
 

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Clear night; took out the binoculars.

Betelgeuse is indeed faint ... Orion is messed up, just bright Rigel. Wierd! Sort of hope it does blow, as long as no gamma radiation comes our way.

Aldebaran in the Hyades is brighter than Betelgeuse... One is red, one orange, but hard to tell!

Saw Mercury for bonus points. Venus will practically blind you, on this scale.


AA
 

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Another clear, cold night with binoculars ...

It basically looks like somebody gave Orion a hotfoot!

One bright star, out of the four corners! Weird!

Supposedly, after February 21, Betelgeuse will either get brighter ... or its looking more like a stellar kabom!


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