It is the usual time of the year for giant star Betelgeuse to be in the spotlight. Or, better said, to be the spotlight. So, skywatchers pay attention! Never mind the telescope, bare eyes are enough, as Betelgeuse’s late dim will be very visible. It doesn’t even need to be night time, just the sky to get dark enough.
Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, one of the most massive stars visible to the naked eye. Its mass ranges from slightly under 10 to a little over 20 times that of the Sun. One of the most exciting things about her is that she is a runaway. A real runaway star. Its birthplace was somewhere closer to the stars in Orion’s Belt. Now she became the left-hand shoulder of the hunter in Orion’s constellation.
A runaway star is one that is moving through space with an abnormally high velocity. The motion of a runaway star usually points precisely away from the stellar association that hurled her out. Yes, she didn’t correctly run, she was put on the run.
Betelgeuse Shows Some Weird Traits Now
Lately, Betelgeuse has come up with a new reason to be the center of attention. Starting in October 2019, it began to dim noticeably, and by January 2020, its brightness had dropped from magnitude 0.5 to 1.5. Changes in its size and temperature cause the cycles of increasing and decreasing intensity.
Mediatic and popular speculations say that the drop might indicate that Betelgeuse could soon explode into a supernova. But astrophysicists consider this unlikely. It might happen within 100,000 years, but for now, it is more than safe.
The sad part is that the dimming made her miss the eleventh-brightest star in the night sky place. She was demoted to outside the first 20 brightest stars in the sky. This is currently the least luminous and coolest in the last 25 years since she’s been studied.