Home TECH NEWS The mystery of Betelgeuse’s darkening is finally solved

The mystery of Betelgeuse’s darkening is finally solved

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In December 2019, Astronomers noticed from Betelgeuse, A bright red star in Orion. They are puzzled by this phenomenon and want to know if this is a sign that the star is about to become a supernova. A few months later, they narrowed down the most likely explanation to two: a brief cold spot on the southern surface of the star (similar to a sunspot), or a cloud of dust that makes the observer on Earth look dimmer.We now have the answer, according to A new paper Published in the journal natural. Dust is The culprit, But this is related to the brief appearance of a cold spot.

John Timmer as Ars Reported last year, Betelgeuse is one of the closest massive stars to the earth, about 700 light-years away. This is an ancient star that has reached the stage of glowing dark red and expanding. The hot core has only a weak gravitational pull on its outer layer. This star has something similar to a heartbeat, albeit very slow and irregular. Over time, stars experience periods when their surface expands and then contracts.

One of the cycles is quite regular and takes more than five years to complete. On top of this is a shorter and more irregular cycle, which takes less than one to 1.5 years to complete. Although they are easy to track with ground-based telescopes, these changes do not cause drastic changes in the star’s light, which can cause changes that occur during the dimming event.

At the end of 2019, Betelgeuse became darker, and the difference was visible to the naked eye. The dimming persisted, the brightness dropped by 35% in mid-February, and then brightened again in April 2020.

The telescope pointed at this giant can confirm-rather than a neat, uniform decrease in brightness-the dimming of Betelgeuse uneven distribution, When viewed from the earth, the star takes on a strange, squashed shape. This raises many questions about what happened to the giant, and some experts speculate that due to the size and age of Betelgeuse, this strange behavior is a sign that a supernova is forming.

By mid-2020, astronomers had changed their views.A group of international observers happened to have Hubble Space Telescope Point to Betelgeuse before, during and after the darkening event. Combined with some timely ground observations, these ultraviolet data indicate that large hiccups that form dust clouds near stars may cause stars to dim.

“With Hubble, we can see matter leaving the surface of the star and passing through the atmosphere, and then dust forms causing the star to look dim,” Andrea Dupree saysAstronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made these observations. She is also the co-author of this new paper.

Photo: M. Montargès et al/ESO

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