Celebrity star Betelgeuse is smaller and closer than we thought

Betelgeuse is Smaller and Closer to Earth than Previously Thought | Astronomy

Betelgeuse is Smaller and Closer to Earth than Previously Thought | Astronomy

Betelgeuse, the supergiant red star that has baffled astronomers since 2019, was found to be 25% closer to Earth and much smaller than previously thought. But it's been acting odd lately.

It may be another 100,000 years until the giant red star Betelgeuse dies in a fiery explosion, according to a new study by an worldwide team of researchers.

Speculations about the Betelgeuse explosion went into high gear as the star went through some weird dimming and brightening episodes from late 2019. But our study offers a different explanation. It's likely some other event happened in the star (perhaps a rising plume of hot gas) coupled with the normal pulsation, causing the creation of the dust that dimmed it.

The astronomers wanted to investigate Betelgeuse using physical models of how gas flows inside the star, and how seismic waves travel through it, because these depend on the internal structure of the star (a little like how seismic waves traveling through the Earth tell geologists about the structure inside our planet).

The scientific team used modeling to categorize what goes along with the pulsation and traced it to what co-author Shing-Chi Leung of the University of Tokyo described as "pressure waves-essentially sound waves".

Dr Meredith Joyce from the Australian National University said that the star was still burning helium in its core at the moment "which means it's nowhere near exploding".

Before going on, let me pause and say that if they're correct, and Betelgeuse is closer to us than previously thought, we are still in no danger if it goes supernova.

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The co-author Dr. László Molnár of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest said the study also showed how big Betelgeuse is and how far it is from Earth. "Petalgeus' true body size was a mystery - previous studies have suggested that it may be larger than Jupiter's orbit".

"Our results say Betelgeuse only extends out to two thirds of that, with a radius 764 times the radius of the Sun".

The good news is that this supernova won't be able to harm anyone on Earth, but it would be visible, even during the daytime, scientists at the University of California added.

She added: 'It's still a really big deal when a supernova goes off. It's our closest candidate. It gives us a rare opportunity to examine what is happening Stars so before they explode, "said Dr. Joyce".

The study was funded by The Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (WPI), The University of Tokyo, and facilitated by the ANU Distinguished Visitor's program. Researchers from the USA, Hungary, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, as well as Australia and Japan, were involved.

More information: Meridith Joyce et al. In the last panel, Betelgeuse is obscured by a giant dust cloud. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

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