Edward Guinan from the Villanova University reported that the red giant star Betelgeuse began to dim in October. This was very odd since the star was n the top 10 brightest objects from the night sky. Meanwhile, it wasn’t getting even in the top 20, and therefore astronomers began to worry that the huge object is about to explode and thus create a supernova.
Betelgeuse is located 642 light-years from Earth, and some people were even considering the idea that our planet could be caught in the tremendous explosion of the star. Luckily for us, we are safe due to the huge distance. And a new study made by scientists from the University of Washington and Lowell Observatory claims that Betelgeuse’s dimming is occurring only because of dust.
No supernova anytime soon
If we want supernovas, we might as well focus our attention in different directions rather than the Betelgeuse star, at least for now. The red supergiant is dimming because it got rid of some material from its outer layers, and they became dust surrounding the star.
Emily Levesque, a UW associate professor of astronomy, details for us more about Betelgeuse’s dimming behavior:
We see this all the time in red supergiants, and it’s a normal part of their life cycle,
Red supergiants will occasionally shed material from their surfaces, which will condense around the star as dust. As it cools and dissipates, the dust grains will absorb some of the light heading toward us and block our view.
However, this doesn’t mean that Betelgeuse won’t explode at some point and therefore transform into a supernova. It only means that the dimming of the red supergiant is not caused by the cosmic object being at the point of becoming a supernova. You know what they say that nothing lasts forever, and any star as well will die at a certain moment in time. Betelgeuse is still expected to blow up within the next 100,000 years.
The study paper was accepted for Astrophysical Journal Letters.