The star Betelgeuse going supernova soon?

In summary, Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star located approximately 640 light-years from Earth and is the ninth brightest star in the night sky. It is expected to go supernova soon, possibly within the next millennium, and will be at least as bright as the full moon for six weeks. However, it is not expected to cause an extinction-level event on Earth, but could potentially cause some disruptions to weather and technology. It is uncertain when exactly the supernova will occur, but it is estimated to have occurred sometime in the past 639 years. There is currently no way to see the star in its current form without waiting for its light to reach Earth. It is also uncertain if we would be able to detect
  • #1
Glennage
44
1
I saw this on another site.

The star Betelgeuse going supernova soon?

I was talking to my son last week (he works on Mauna Kea), and he mentioned some new observations (that will no doubt get published eventually) of "Beetlejuice"; it's no longer round. This is a huge star, and when it goes, it will be at least as bright as that 1054 supernova...except that this one is 520 light years away, not 6,300:

SN 1054 (Crab Supernova) was a supernova that was widely seen on Earth in the year 1054. It was recorded by Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, and Persian/Arab astronomers as being bright enough to see in daylight for 23 days and was visible in the night sky for 653 days.[1][2][3] The progenitor star was located in the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of 6,300 light years and exploded as a core-collapse supernova.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SN_1054"

When it collapses, it will be at least as bright as the full moon, and maybe as bright as the sun. For six weeks. So the really lucky folks (for whom Betelgeuse is only visible at night) will get 24 hour days, everybody else will get at least some time with two suns in the sky. The extra hour of light from daylight savings time won't burn the crops, but this might. Probably, all we'll get is visible light (not gamma rays or X-rays), so it shouldn't be an ELE. It's sure going to freak everyone out, though...

Then it will form a black hole, but we're too far away for that to matter.

The buzz is that this is weeks/months away, not the "any time in the next thousand years" that's in all the books.

For your reading pleasure (and I left out the tinfoil, but a google search will turn up plenty):

Betelgeuse is a semiregular variable star located approximately 640 light-years from the Earth[5] With an apparent magnitude ranging between 0.3 and 1.2, it is the ninth brightest star in the night sky. Although Betelgeuse has the Bayer designation Alpha Orionis (α Orionis / α Ori), it is most often the second brightest star in the constellation Orion behind α; Rigel (Beta Orionis) is usually brighter (Betelgeuse is a variable star and is on occasion brighter than Rigel). The star marks the upper right vertex of the Winter Triangle and center of the Winter Hexagon.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, and one of the largest and most luminous stars known. For comparison, if the star were at the center of our solar system its surface might extend out to between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, wholly engulfing Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars. The angular diameter of Betelgeuse was first measured in 1920–1921 by Albert Abraham Michelson and Francis G. Pease using the 100 inch (2.5 m) John D. Hooker astronomical interferometer telescope atop Mount Wilson Observatory.

Astronomers believe Betelgeuse is only a few million years old, but has evolved rapidly because of its high mass.[7] Due to its age, Betelgeuse may supernova within the next millennium (because it is hundreds of light years away, it possibly may have done so already).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse"

http://www.solstation.com/x-objects/betelgeuse.htm"

http://domeofthesky.com/clicks/betelgeuse.html"

http://Earth'sky.org/brightest-stars/betelgeuse-will-explode-someday"

http://scienceray.com/astronomy/apocalypse-soon-supernova-betelgeuse-is-coming/"
 
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  • #2
Poor Orion is going to lose his shoulder if that is true. Pity we won't live to see.

I think I've been watching about this in some program, the irony was that Orion - the hunter, the archer - may actually fire upon is ;)
 
  • #3
dgtech said:
Poor Orion is going to lose his shoulder if that is true. Pity we won't live to see.

I think I've been watching about this in some program, the irony was that Orion - the hunter, the archer - may actually fire upon is ;)

Ah yes, I would love to be around when this does go Supernova. I imagine it will be quite a spectacle - I'm sure it will also be a worldwide event (If religion is still going by the time it goes boom) for astronomical / Spiritual events going on.
 
  • #4
Hopefully it won't be going ;) A thousand years is plenty of time for people to grow beyond stupidity and dependence
 
  • #5
dgtech said:
Hopefully it won't be going ;) A thousand years is plenty of time for people to grow beyond stupidity and dependence

Now that's a good quote.
 
  • #6
dgtech said:
Hopefully it won't be going ;) A thousand years is plenty of time for people to grow beyond stupidity and dependence

Somehow 4000 years were not enough.

But we better stick to astronomy.

I don't like the idea of supernova that close. If the estimate of the Betelgeuse becoming bright as Sun is close to reality, that means huge increase in the amount of energy delivered to the Earth surface; I am sure weather will play some dirty tricks on us.
 
  • #7
Borek said:
Somehow 4000 years were not enough.

But we better stick to astronomy.

I don't like the idea of supernova that close. If the estimate of the Betelgeuse becoming bright as Sun is close to reality, that means huge increase in the amount of energy delivered to the Earth surface; I am sure weather will play some dirty tricks on us.

Could it knock out power and satellites at all? Just lucky we will all be dead!

Once it went Supernova, it would take 3-400 years to reach us? Is this correct?
 
  • #8
According to wikipedia it is 640 ly from us, so it will take 640 years to reach us. BUT - could be it already exploded 639 years, 11 months on 29 days ago, we just don't know yet.
 
  • #9
Borek said:
According to wikipedia it is 640 ly from us, so it will take 640 years to reach us. BUT - could be it already exploded 639 years, 11 months on 29 days ago, we just don't know yet.

Would there not be a way to see the Star in it's current form, without waiting for it's light to reach us? Or do we simply just have to wait...

Let's say it has gone Supernova, and it hits tomorrow, would we know? Would it act like a huge EMP on a global scale?
 
  • #10
Borek said:
Somehow 4000 years were not enough.

But we better stick to astronomy.

I don't like the idea of supernova that close. If the estimate of the Betelgeuse becoming bright as Sun is close to reality, that means huge increase in the amount of energy delivered to the Earth surface; I am sure weather will play some dirty tricks on us.

Yes, but we didn't have a global information network the last 4000 years, nor all the archeological findings which were revealed the last 100 years :) Those are much needed tools for that purpose, but it is unrelated to this forum...

The orientation of Betelgeuse does not pose a risk of a gamma outburst in our direction, the only thing we have to worry is the much slower shock wave of highly charged particles that is moving a lot slower than light. It will take many thousands of years after the observable supernova before it hits us, we'd be either way more advanced or would have destroyed ourselves by then, so little worries there :)
 
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  • #11
Glennage said:
Would there not be a way to see the Star in it's current form, without waiting for it's light to reach us? Or do we simply just have to wait...
It's neutrino's would reach us first, but not by very long - and we don't have good neutrino telescopes.
A supernova wouldn't be that damaging at 600lyr - unlike a GRB.
 
  • #12
Glennage said:
Would there not be a way to see the Star in it's current form, without waiting for it's light to reach us? Or do we simply just have to wait...

Let's say it has gone Supernova, and it hits tomorrow, would we know? Would it act like a huge EMP on a global scale?

We have to wait. EMP is nothing else but a burst of electromagnetic radiation, and as such it travels at the same speed all types of electromagnetic radiation do - that is, speed of light.
 
  • #13
mgb_phys said:
It's neutrino's would reach us first, but not by very long - and we don't have good neutrino telescopes.
A supernova wouldn't be that damaging at 600lyr - unlike a GRB.

Thanks for that.

Just one question, what is a GRB?
 
  • #14
gamma ray burst - check my previous post
 
  • #15
dgtech said:
gamma ray burst - check my previous post

Ah yes, sorry, missed that.

So what causes the GRB??
 
  • #17
Most observed GRBs are believed to be a narrow beam of intense radiation released during a supernova event

So why wouldn't betelgeuse send out a GRB?
 
  • #18
Just note that neutrinos are earlier not because they travel faster, but because they are produced at the earlier stage of the explosion.

Unless I am wrong.
 
  • #19
Glennage said:
So why wouldn't betelgeuse send out a GRB?

Note that GRB is narrow - that means it is emitted in one direction. It doesn't have to shine on everything.
 
  • #20
It could go tomorrow or in a million years. I wouldn't hold your breath.
 
  • #21
Borek said:
Just note that neutrinos are earlier not because they travel faster, but because they are produced at the earlier stage of the explosion.
They also get out of the surrounding envelope faster because they don't get scattered.

Betelgeuse isn't massive enough to form a GRB (hopefully)
However it's disappearance will have the effect of making my PhD thesis (IR interferometer imaging of Betelguese) even more irrelevant than it currently is.
 
  • #22
mgb_phys said:
They also get out of the surrounding envelope faster because they don't get scattered.

Betelgeuse isn't massive enough to form a GRB (hopefully)
However it's disappearance will have the effect of making my PhD thesis (IR interferometer imaging of Betelguese) even more irrelevant than it currently is.

Lol!
 
  • #23
I hope it waits till next fall or we may miss the spectacular show like the Crab Nebula must have been barring an extra-large x-ray radiation event. I hope we see it happen then are safely behind the sun when the Gamma ray burst occurs.
 
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  • #24
Philosophaie said:
I hope it waits till next fall or we may miss the spectacular show like the Crab Nebula must have been barring an extra-large x-ray radiation event. I hope we see it happen then are safely behind the sun when the Gamma ray burst occurs.

It ain't going to happen. The only situation Sun can screen us is when the object is exactly in the Earth orbit plane - Betelgeuse is above. And even then we can be behind Sun only for about 12 hours - that is, Sun lies between us and any other distant object for only about 0.15% of the time. We would need a lot of luck.
 
  • #25
I've been looking a little at this myself lately. The original source, unfortunately, is not verifiable. However, it's basically not inconsistent with existing observations of Betelgeuse, which indicate that after a long period of fluctuation in size with a period on the order of several years, it has been shrinking continuously (and at an increasing rate) since 1993. If this does reflect a permanent change in the internal state of the star and Betelgeuse has entered its final collapse, we would expect it to become progressively more non-spherical as it collapses. I imagine I don't need to point out that the brightness estimates in the initial article are WAY off, though.

The original post uses SN1054 as a reference. Let's do that. And let's also look at SN1006, although SN1006 was probably a Type 1a supernova. SN1054, at a distance estimated at 6300LY, is estimated based on accounts written at the time to have reached apparent magnitude -6. SN1006, the brightest extra-solar stellar event ever observed and recorded by humans, reached absolute magnitude -7.5 from a distance estimated at 7200LY. Measurements of Betelgeuse's distance vary from 495LY to about 620LY, with the "best compromise" estimates considered to lie between 530LY and 570LY.

To start with, if we assume Betelgeuse would be like a SN1054 event, we can predict that simply by virtue of being between 11 and 12 times closer, a Type II supernova of Betelgeuse would appear somewhere in the region of 130 to 140 times brighter than SN1054 merely by virtue of being closer. This would mean an apparent magnitude somewhere around -12, making it a little less than half as bright as the full moon (magnitude -12.92).

This, however, assumes that Betelgeuse is just like the progenitor star of SN1054, which it is not. We believe that SN1054's progenitor star was between 9 and 11 solar masses. This is about half the mass of Betelgeuse, estimated at 20 solar masses. We can therefore expect Betelgeuse's supernova to be a considerably more energetic event than SN1054, but we don't know by how much. So let's also compare to SN1006, which was a full 1.5 magnitudes brighter than SN1054 despite being almost 1000LY further away. We can readily calculate that SN1006 had to have an absolute luminosity on the order of 5.2 times that of SN1054. This is a little under two magnitudes.

So, if we assume that a Type II supernova of Betelgeuse would be at least as luminous as SN1054 (a not unreasonable assumption), but no more luminous than SN1006, we can ballpark its probable apparent magnitude at somewhere in the range of -12 to -14, or, in other words, from roughly half to roughly twice the maximum brightness of the full moon. (Remember, though, to visual observation it will be a point source. It will be piercingly brilliant.) But there is no way it's going to be 12 to 13 magnitudes (absolute) brighter than SN1006, which is what it would take to rival the Sun.

So, as bright as the full moon? Very likely. As bright as the sun? Not a chance, unless something far more catastrophic happens than our understanding of stellar evolution would currently lead us to expect.
 
  • #26
Philosophaie said:
I hope it waits till next fall or we may miss the spectacular show like the Crab Nebula must have been barring an extra-large x-ray radiation event. I hope we see it happen then are safely behind the sun when the Gamma ray burst occurs.

On the basis of current understanging, there is no known danger to Earth of a GRB from Betelgeuse. We aren't anywhere near to close enough to being in line with Betelgeuse's poles.
 
  • #28
rathat said:
I saw something that said it could happen within a few weeks?


can someone verify this?

Yes, I can verify whether or not this is true, but I'm a little busy right now. I'll get back to you in two months. :smile:
 
  • #29
I wouldn't bet on it but it would certainly be exciting. I'll be disappointed to see poor Orion's shoulder mangled when/if I live to see Betelgeuse go.
 
  • #30
I NEED to find out if this is true.
 
  • #31
rathat said:
I NEED to find out if this is true.

Seriously though, all you need to do is wait and see. In a few weeks you'll know. Before that, nobody can possibly know for sure. I'd love to live to see it, but I don't think the odds are in my favor.

Out of curiosity, why the NEED to find out?
 
  • #32
I think it will be seen to go nova on December 21, 2012. It will form a rotating black hole with a pulsating torch beam and incinerate the earth.

Perhaps you should consider selling me your house at a steep discount. What with the world ending and all it would be the prudent move.
 
  • #33
rathat said:
I saw something that said it could happen within a few weeks?

source
http://unixronin.livejournal.com/763082.html

can someone verify this?

Well, it still technically COULD. But there's now at least reasonably reliable refutation (alliteration über alles!) of the original, dubious and unverified, report on which all the speculation was based, http://http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/01/is-betelgeuse-about-to-blow/" . As was highly probable right from the start, it's just an unverified rumor based on a misunderstanding of already known data. There is no dramatic new observation.

Astronomers have been saying for years that Betelgeuse could easily go at any time within the next thousand years or so, but based on that article, there's no actual direct evidence that it's fixing to do so Right Now. Which is kind of a shame; in addition to being a truly spectacular show, it would have given us huge amounts of data on how a Type II supernova actually happens.

But ... no BOOM! today. Nor probably tomorrow. Maybe next year, or two or three hundred years from now.

"Where is my Betelgeuse-shattering KABOOM? There was supposed to be a Betelgeuse-shattering KABOOM!"
 
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  • #34
Betelgeuse is towards the end of it's life. However the big Kaboom could be in several thousand years as it usually is with stars. It would be cool to watch but unlikely for us to see it. :(
BT
 
  • #35
The challenge now becomes to try to keep this thread alive until it actually does go supernova! (as in, we see it go supernova).
 
<h2>1. When will Betelgeuse go supernova?</h2><p>It is difficult to predict the exact timing of a supernova event, but based on current observations, it is estimated that Betelgeuse could go supernova within the next 100,000 years.</p><h2>2. Will Betelgeuse's supernova affect Earth?</h2><p>No, Betelgeuse is located approximately 642.5 light years away from Earth, which is too far to cause any significant impact on our planet.</p><h2>3. How bright will Betelgeuse's supernova be?</h2><p>Betelgeuse's supernova is expected to be one of the brightest events in the night sky, potentially even visible during the day. It is estimated to be as bright as the full moon and could last for several weeks before fading.</p><h2>4. What will happen to Betelgeuse after the supernova?</h2><p>After the supernova, Betelgeuse will likely become a neutron star or a black hole. This will depend on the mass of the star and the amount of material expelled during the explosion.</p><h2>5. Is there any danger to studying Betelgeuse's supernova?</h2><p>No, there is no danger in studying Betelgeuse's supernova. Scientists have been closely monitoring the star and have not detected any signs of imminent danger. Additionally, the distance between Earth and Betelgeuse provides a safe buffer from any potential hazards.</p>

Related to The star Betelgeuse going supernova soon?

1. When will Betelgeuse go supernova?

It is difficult to predict the exact timing of a supernova event, but based on current observations, it is estimated that Betelgeuse could go supernova within the next 100,000 years.

2. Will Betelgeuse's supernova affect Earth?

No, Betelgeuse is located approximately 642.5 light years away from Earth, which is too far to cause any significant impact on our planet.

3. How bright will Betelgeuse's supernova be?

Betelgeuse's supernova is expected to be one of the brightest events in the night sky, potentially even visible during the day. It is estimated to be as bright as the full moon and could last for several weeks before fading.

4. What will happen to Betelgeuse after the supernova?

After the supernova, Betelgeuse will likely become a neutron star or a black hole. This will depend on the mass of the star and the amount of material expelled during the explosion.

5. Is there any danger to studying Betelgeuse's supernova?

No, there is no danger in studying Betelgeuse's supernova. Scientists have been closely monitoring the star and have not detected any signs of imminent danger. Additionally, the distance between Earth and Betelgeuse provides a safe buffer from any potential hazards.

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