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The famous star Beetlejuice has faded, but it still probably won't explode anytime soon

Beetlejuice is one of the brightest stars in the sky, and is a red supergiant: a star that has finished fusing hydrogen in its core and is in the stage before a supernova explosion. The brightness of Beetlejuice rises and falls cyclically, and now its low is particularly strong

Beetlejuice goes supernova. Illustration: shutterstock
Beetlejuice goes supernova. Illustration: shutterstock

Researchers from Villanova University who examined the light curve of the variable star Beetlejuice in the Orion group (or by its official name Alpha Orion), were amazed to see that the star reached its lowest brightness in the last fifty years. Vigilant astronomy enthusiasts can notice the phenomenon themselves because it causes a change in Orion's shoulder.

Beetlejuice is one of the brightest stars in the sky, and is a red supergiant: a star that has finished fusing hydrogen in its core and is in the stage before a supernova explosion. The brightness of Beetlejuice rises and falls cyclically, and now its low is particularly strong.

The mass of Beetlejuice is 12 times that of our Sun and it lies about 700 light years away. The variability of the star was first noted by the astronomer John Herschel in 1836. It is inflated to a diameter of about eight astronomical units. If they were to place it in the solar system it would cover the entire space up to the orbit of Jupiter.

We often see supernovae in distant galaxies, but so far since the age of telescopes no supernova has occurred in the Milky Way. The explosion of Kepler's star in the constellation Ophiuchus in 1604 was the last supernova observed in the Milky Way, although in 1987 we were able to see a spectacular supernova show in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. A red giant like Betelgeuse lives fast and dies young, exhausting its hydrogen fuel supply in less than 10 million years. The star is destined to undergo a massive core explosion and collapse as a type II supernova. Such an explosion could happen in 100,000 years... or tonight.
Beetlejuice has also been considered for years as a candidate to explode and become the closest documented supernova to Earth, but this is a short time on a cosmic scale, about one hundred thousand years. However, even when the star explodes, the Earth's atmosphere is able to absorb the dangerous radiation and the energetic particles that will be emitted, but the spectacle will be spectacular. We will be able to see it in the sky even during the daytime, and science will of course be able to enjoy a means of studying the spectacular phenomenon relatively closely.

Is the current decline a prelude to a truly spectacular show, or a false alarm? Astronomers are not sure, but a supernova event only 700 light-years away (although far from the danger range of about fifty light-years in diameter from the supernova) would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the event up close. Not only will all optical telescopes be pointed at it, but also the gravitational wave observers LIGO and VIRGO will be able to easily detect gravitational waves from the event, and the neutrino detector Icecube in Antarctica will also be able to detect particles coming from the event.

for the scientific article

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14 תגובות

  1. In an article in the science of the end of the world, it was said this about the burst of gamma rays from Super Nova: "A fire vane in space called WR 104, 8,000 light years away may throw gamma rays towards us that could cause mass extinction on Earth."
    And here from a massive star like Beetlejuice 680 light years away, there is no danger?
    Are you hiding something from us?

  2. From Wikipedia:

    Betelgeuse (in another spelling: Betelgeuse; in English: Betelgeuse) or α in Orion is a red supergiant star about 430 light-years away from the solar system.

    The difference in distances is not within the realm of statistical error

  3. The name comes from the West, - Beit-el-Joz, and in Hebrew, Beit Aguza.

  4. Funny name... they write Betelgeuse but in English they call it what sounds like Beetle juice, meaning "beetle juice"

  5. If it exploded, say, 699 years and 11 months ago, we won't have it in the sky a few months later.
    Orion will look different without Beetlejuice and it will be strange, it's like Orion will get a disability.

  6. How significant is the decrease in light intensity?
    Is this something that can be seen with the eye, or only through measurement with precise devices?

  7. Who said that the speed of movement of the parts distributed everywhere did not cross the speed of light? If so, then the visit to us might be automatic.. ??

  8. The star is 700 light years away from us, so we observe it as it existed 700 years ago.
    That is, there is a chance that the star has already collapsed and there was a super nova but we are still not aware of it.

  9. In any case, even if it happens "tonight", it is about an explosion that happened on the night of 700 years ago :-)
    So everyone who always fantasizes about a time machine, here is the opportunity to take a look at the past because every time we look up to the sky we are looking back in time... I wish I could see such an event.

  10. I don't understand something here?! If the star Beetlejuice is seven hundred light years away from us, it means that what we see now already happened seven hundred years ago, how do scientists look for particles of a star that collapsed 700 years ago if light takes 700 years to get here, for particles that are much slower than the speed of light It will take about 700 million years to get here???

  11. If Beetlejuice is 700 light-years away from Earth, aren't the telescopes watching the events that took place there about 700 years ago? And if so, there is a 700/100000 chance that the Beetlejuice super nova phenomenon has already occurred in the past.

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