(ORDO NEWS) — Betelgeuse, the red giant star, began to fade again. After dimming and then brightening, Betelgeuse began to fade again.
Moreover, this new dimming is incompatible with Betelgeuse’s current dimming cycle.
Betelgeuse, 700 light-years away in the constellation Orion and one of the brightest stars in our sky, is also one of the most interesting. This is because it is very old for its type, from 8 to 8.5 million years old, and is almost on the cusp of a supernova.
It is believed that the star is 10-25 times the mass of the Sun and has lived most of its life as a hot, blue-white massive star. Now the days of her main sequence of hydrogen melting in the star’s core are over; Some time ago, Betelgeuse ran out of hydrogen and is now converting helium into carbon and oxygen.
Once it runs out of helium, it will burn off increasingly heavy elements, causing iron to build up in the core, eventually leading to a supernova. But while a sharp blackout is expected right before the incredible explosion, that time has not yet arrived. Astronomers predict that several tens of thousands of years will pass.
“Surprisingly, instead of continuing to increase or equalize in brightness, Betelgeuse’s brightness decreased by about 0.5 magnitude. From mid-May to mid-July, ” wrote a group of scientists led by Andrea Dupree of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The good news is that Betelgeuse is visible in our skies again, so more observations can be made. The STEREO Heliospheric Scanner has recorded the star’s brightness in visible light, but other instruments can detect, for example, changes in temperature – to confirm or rule out the activity of star spots – and whether the star changes in size, as found in a previous blackout.
According to a 425-day cycle, Betelgeuse should have started to fade in April 2021. But beyond the known cycles, the star can be quite unpredictable and has complex variations in its emission that we just don’t understand very well.
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