17 February 2020

Betelgeuse may be preparing to go supernova

Although it’s far enough away to keep Earth safe from radiation when it goes supernova, red supergiant star Betelgeuse is about 700 times the size of our sun, with a radius roughly equivalent to the orbit of Jupiter. “It would be astounding,” said Andy Howell, an astronomer at the Las Cumbres Observatory and the University of California at Santa Barbara about Betelgeuse’s inevitable explosion.

“No person alive today will have seen anything so glorious as what will happen when Betelgeuse blows up,” says Howell. “You could see it in the daytime, it would cast shadows at night, everyone in the world who could see Orion would be able to see it. It would transform people’s fascination with the night sky.”

“It is inevitable,” Villanova astronomy professor Edward Guinan told NBC MACH, noting that the dimming is caused by the growth of giant dark regions on the star’s surface, similar to sunspots on our own sun. “The star is going to blow up. It has no other choice in physics. I just don’t think it is now. But I’m becoming less and less certain of that.”

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse (at top of page). The stunning new images of the star’s surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing.
More at The Daily Galaxy.


  1. Considering that Betelgeuse is 642.5 light years away it’s possible that it already exploded and we won’t ever know in our lifetimes.

    1. Or within the existence of our species altogether, as "about to go supernova" may mean another 100,000 years from now. Still, it would be a sight to behold, even if poor Orion will be reduced to an elderly people's walker once B'juice is gone.


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