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Old 02-11-2020, 07:10 PM   #1
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Betelgeuse may go Supernova soon

From here
THE CONTINUING MYSTERY OF BETELGEUSE: For months, astronomers have been keeping a wary eye on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion's shoulder. What's attracting their attention? All of a sudden, Betelgeuse isn't bright anymore. Its visible luminosity has "fallen off a cliff"--a sign that the star could be on the verge of going supernova.

"The most recent measurements put the visual magnitude of Betelgeuse at about +1.66, the dimmest its been in our 25 years of photometry," says Edward Guinan of Villanova University.


Above: The horizontal axis is Heliospheric Julian Date (HJD). For reference, Jan. 30, 2020, the date of the most recent measurement, has an HJD of 2458879.

Betelgeuse is a highly evolved red supergiant--the type of star that could collapse and explode at any moment. Indeed, the dimming of Betelgeuse could be explained if the star has suddenly contracted to about 92% of its previous radius. But that's not the only possibility. Betelgeuse might be dimmed by a giant starspot--or maybe it is shrouded by an outburst of stardust from its own cool outer layers--or something else entirely. No one knows.

Answers might be forthcoming on Feb. 21st. Astronomers have long known that Betelgeuse is a variable star. It pulsates with many periods, as shown in this Fourier analysis of Betelgeuse's light curve:


Above: A period analysis of 23 years (1995-2018) of Betelgeuse photometry. Credit: Peranso.

"This shows a dominant (probable pulsation) period of P = 430 days," note Guinan and colleague Richard Wasatonic in a recent Astronomical Telegram. Given this result, "the minimum brightness is expected on 21 (+/-7d) February 2020."

If Betelegeuse starts to bounce back on Feb. 21st, this whole episode might just be a deeper-than-average pulsation, and perhaps the supernova watch can be called off. However, notes Guinan, "even if the 430-day period is still working, this would indicate a minimum brightness near 0.9 mag--much brighter than the current value near 1.6 mag. So something very unusual is going on."

Stay tuned for updates as Feb. 21st approaches.
If it does go supernova, it should be visible in daylight and be as bright as the moon.
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:15 PM   #2
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Where the heck is Ford Prefect. I hope he is nowhere near his home system when this goes off.

---------- Post added at 07:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:14 PM ----------

But seriously. This is fascinating.
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O_P_T View Post
From here
THE CONTINUING MYSTERY OF BETELGEUSE: For months, astronomers have been keeping a wary eye on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion's shoulder. What's attracting their attention? All of a sudden, Betelgeuse isn't bright anymore. Its visible luminosity has "fallen off a cliff"--a sign that the star could be on the verge of going supernova.

"The most recent measurements put the visual magnitude of Betelgeuse at about +1.66, the dimmest its been in our 25 years of photometry," says Edward Guinan of Villanova University.


Above: The horizontal axis is Heliospheric Julian Date (HJD). For reference, Jan. 30, 2020, the date of the most recent measurement, has an HJD of 2458879.

Betelgeuse is a highly evolved red supergiant--the type of star that could collapse and explode at any moment. Indeed, the dimming of Betelgeuse could be explained if the star has suddenly contracted to about 92% of its previous radius. But that's not the only possibility. Betelgeuse might be dimmed by a giant starspot--or maybe it is shrouded by an outburst of stardust from its own cool outer layers--or something else entirely. No one knows.

Answers might be forthcoming on Feb. 21st. Astronomers have long known that Betelgeuse is a variable star. It pulsates with many periods, as shown in this Fourier analysis of Betelgeuse's light curve:


Above: A period analysis of 23 years (1995-2018) of Betelgeuse photometry. Credit: Peranso.

"This shows a dominant (probable pulsation) period of P = 430 days," note Guinan and colleague Richard Wasatonic in a recent Astronomical Telegram. Given this result, "the minimum brightness is expected on 21 (+/-7d) February 2020."

If Betelegeuse starts to bounce back on Feb. 21st, this whole episode might just be a deeper-than-average pulsation, and perhaps the supernova watch can be called off. However, notes Guinan, "even if the 430-day period is still working, this would indicate a minimum brightness near 0.9 mag--much brighter than the current value near 1.6 mag. So something very unusual is going on."

Stay tuned for updates as Feb. 21st approaches.
If it does go supernova, it should be visible in daylight and be as bright as the moon.
Does it have mass sufficient for the black hole?
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:34 AM   #4
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When we would see it will be 642 years after it actually occurred...
If we see the supernova tomorrow, the event actually happened around William Wallace's time.

Space is endlessly boggling 👍

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Old 02-12-2020, 07:50 AM   #5
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Me? Supernova? Sure!
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O_P_T View Post
From here
THE CONTINUING MYSTERY OF BETELGEUSE: For months, astronomers have been keeping a wary eye on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion's shoulder. What's attracting their attention? All of a sudden, Betelgeuse isn't bright anymore. Its visible luminosity has "fallen off a cliff"--a sign that the star could be on the verge of going supernova.

Stay tuned for updates as Feb. 21st approaches.
If it does go supernova, it should be visible in daylight and be as bright as the moon.
Wow!
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:18 AM   #7
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... oh well.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:45 AM   #8
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:33 AM   #9
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We are all just little specks of dust in this Universe.
On the significance of humans

“The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes.”

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Old 02-12-2020, 01:54 PM   #10
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On the significance of humans

“The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes.”

Stephen Hawking
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Does it have mass sufficient for the black hole?
Betelgeuse is said to consist of 11 - 15 solar masses.

The minimum mass of a stellar black hole is thought to be ~3 solar masses. (2.7 sticks in my head as the minimum mass, but that was back in the before time when I went to school and computers were constructed using stone knives and bear skins)

So the question is how much mass will Betelgeuse blow off when it goes Supernova, and how much mass will be left to implode.

If ~1.1 to ~3 solar masses remain, it will form a Neutron star. More than that and it will form a Black Hole.
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