Betelgeuse Is Getting Brighter, Renewing Hopes for Supernova

A color composite of Betelgeuse made from exposures from the Digitized Sky Survey 2

Credit: ESO/Davide De Martin

It’s hard to ignore Betelgeuse, which is one of the brightest stars in the sky. You’ve probably seen it up there, marking Orion’s shoulder, but it won’t be there forever. A recent brightening trend has astronomers again wondering if the aging supergiant star is on the verge of death. It’ll be quite a spectacle when Betelgeuse explodes in a supernova, but even the star’s latest weird behavior doesn’t guarantee the time has come.When a star like Betelgeuse exhausts its nuclear fuel, it can no longer produce enough energy to withstand its own gravity. The collapse results in a tremendous increase in temperature and pressure, leading to a cataclysmic explosion. A supernova can flood nearby solar systems with deadly radiation, but we are in the perfect place to observe Betelguese’s end. At 650 light-years away (give or take), Betelgeuse exploding won’t negatively impact Earth. However, that’s very close in astronomical terms.For the past several weeks, Betelgeuse has been getting brighter, now emitting about 50% more light than it usually does, reports Scientific American. This star’s luminance has greatly varied in recent years, dropping by about 60% in 2019 and 2020. That turned out to be thanks to a massive release of gas from the star, as seen below. Astronomers have identified a 400-year cycle based on observations from ancient sources, but the latest changes are happening much faster. The latest brightening episode has been ongoing for just over three months…

Source: Betelgeuse Is Getting Brighter, Renewing Hopes for Supernova

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