(ORDO NEWS) — At a distance of about 642.5 light-years from Earth is the variable star Betelgeuse, which is a red supergiant, which is most likely at the end of its evolutionary path.
That is, at any moment – in a couple of hours or 100,000 years – Betelgeuse can burst into a supernova (explode), leaving behind a neutron star.
Betelgeuse is such a huge star that if it were to replace the Sun and become the center of the solar system, its outer shell would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
Something amazing happened to Betelgeuse at the end of 2019
Everyone has heard about “coronal mass ejections” (CMEs) that happen to our star from time to time. Part of the rarefied outer atmosphere (corona) of the Sun is blown away, scatters through the system, and sometimes its tiny component collides with the Earth.
In 2019, something much more massive happened to Betelgeuse: a colossal “piece” came off a giant star . Its mass was about 400 billion times greater than the mass of matter ejected by the Sun during the most powerful CMEs.
Data from multiple telescopes, notably NASA/ESA Hubble, indicate that in 2019 a convective stream more than 1.6 million kilometers across erupted from the interior of the star, producing powerful shocks and pulsations that tore a “chunk” off the surface of Betelgeuse.
Part of Betelgeuse that left the stellar surface cooled and formed a dark cloud, which led to the dimming of Betelgeuse in 2019 and 2020. Even amateur astronomers with fairly good telescopes could see the incredible changes, the nature of which remained a mystery for two years.
Betelgeuse is a variable star and before the events described above, it showed a regular 430-day pulsation. Such a metronome-like change in brightness has been observed for more than 200 years, but now, after a CME of an unimaginable scale, regular pulsations have ceased.
Probably, the aggressive behavior of Betelgeuse, observed in the recent past, indicates the readiness of the star to complete the red giant cycle and burst into a supernova. This is also hinted at by the activity that is growing again in its depths.
If Betelgeuse were less than 50 light-years from Earth, then we would have nothing to worry about, since events of this magnitude can cause unpredictable damage to flora and fauna.
As for aesthetic pleasure, in the worst case, a point will appear in the sky 10 times brighter than Venus , and at best its brightness will be 50% of the brightness of the full moon.
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