Is Betelgeuse preparing for the explosion? A new analysis has concluded that the supergiant star has fainted and entered the helium-combustion phase — the first stage of a supernova — but none of us would be alive to see it.
- Betelgeuse is a star in the once dimly lit constellation Orion
- A new study finds that it is undergoing an early basic helium burning phase
- This happens when helium fuses into carbon and eventually causes a star to explode
- Experts involved in the study say the Betelgeuse will explode within 100,000 years
Scientists have kept their eyes on the star Betelgeuse since last year, after reports showed the red giant was opaque — but a new study found it still had more than 100,000 years before the event.
An international team of scientists suggests that the star is in the first stage of helium combustion, when the star burns helium into carbon, one of the last steps before a supernova.
The researchers involved in the analysis also found that smaller brightness differences from Betelgeuse were supported by stellar pulses, along with the star’s location closer to Earth than previously thought.
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An international team of scientists suggests that the star is in the early stage of helium combustion, when the star burns helium into carbon, one of the last steps before a supernova.
The team is led by Dr Meredith Joyce of the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze brightness contrast in Betelgeuse.
This allowed the researchers to reveal that the star was currently burning helium in its core.
This occurs when the core of a star reaches about 100 million degrees, causing three helium nuclei to collide and fuse to form a carbon core.
The team is led by Dr Meredith Joyce of the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the brightness contrast of Betelgeuse.
Sometime after this event, the core collapses, causing an explosion that creates nebulae — regions of dust and gas in interstellar space.
Because of this thorough investigation, the team also found that the stellar pulses driven by what is called the kappa mechanism causes the star to continuously brighten or fade away with periods of 185 (+/- 13.5) days and about 400 days.
But the big drop in brightness in early 2020 is unprecedented, and it is likely due to a dust cloud in front of Betelgeuse, as seen in the image.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found that the blackout is likely caused by a painful explosion that ejected hot material into space — covering Earth’s view of the site of Gemini.
The data showed that a dust cloud formed when super-hot plasma blew out of the star, which cooled and formed a dust cloud blocking light from the surface of Betelgeuse.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found that the blackout in 2020 was most likely the result of a shock eruption that ejected hot material into space — covering Earth’s view of the site of Gemini.
The size of Betelgeuse has been a mystery to the scientific community, but a recent study determined that it contains radios 750 times that of the sun.
This information also allowed the researchers to determine that the star is only 530 light-years away from Earth, instead of 700 light-years as previously thought.
Their results indicate that Betelgeuse is not at all close to the blast, and that it is so far from Earth that the final blast has a major impact here, although it remains a major problem when the supernova is exploding.