(ORDO NEWS) — Betelgeuse is a red giant, but historical records indicate that it was yellow-orange in color 2,000 years ago, which means that it will not explode for a long time.
The life of stars is long and slow. Apart from supernova explosions, in the course of human history , we usually do not see much change in space, but there are exceptions.
Humanity could see Betelgeuse explode in the next 100,000 years as it just entered its current red phase, a new study suggests.
Red supergiants like Betelgeuse are in the last phase of their lives.
Stars become red giants when they have exhausted the hydrogen in their core and have begun to fuse ever heavier elements in a shell around the helium core.
For a star as massive as Betelgeuse, this phase usually ends in a supernova explosion. Then something like an “afterlife” begins in the form of a neutron star or a black hole.
However, an article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society indicates that the ancients did not describe Betelgeuse as a red star.
In the time of Jesus, the Roman scientist Hingus called Betelgeuse a yellow-orange star similar to Saturn.
According to the authors of the study, this is evidence that the stellar giant has now entered a new phase of its life.
Not everyone sees the colors of weak lights in the same way. Even today, some people describe Betelgeuse as orange and white.
However, the article also mentions the Chinese court astronomer Sima Qian, who wrote about the colors of the stars a century before Hingus.
Qian described Sirius as white, Antares as red, Betelgeuse as yellow, and Bellatrix as blue. The description of Antares shows that Qian could identify red stars, Betelgeuse just wasn’t one at the time.
“From these specifications, we can conclude that Betelgeuse at that time was in color between the blue-white Sirius, Bellatrix and the red Antares,” said Ralf Neuhäuser, a professor at the University of Jena.
Other ancient sources, including Ptolemy, did not describe Betelgeuse’s color or compare it to other dark red stars. Even the names of the stars give clues.
Antares translates to “like Mars” or “rival of Mars” due to its red color, but Betelgeuse has not been given that name, despite being almost Mars-like in color today.
In the 16th century, Tycho Brahe described Betelgeuse as redder than Aldebaran. Since the two supergiants are usually in the sky at the same time, it is easy to compare them.
The discovery of scientists also speaks about the future of the famous star. We know that stars as massive as Betelgeuse (14 solar masses) spend about 1.5 million years as red supergiants and then go supernovae.
The blackouts that occurred in 2019-20 led astronomers to speculate that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode. Previous results have shown that the Earth has at least 100,000 years before it sees this spectacular event.
However, if Neuhäuser and co-authors are right, we have almost 1.5 million years to wait, by which time, if we do not destroy ourselves, our descendants will be able to colonize the planets located closer to the “place of presentation”.
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