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Red supergiant Betelgeuse, a massive star A massive star lived in the constellation Orion According to astronomers, the explosion has never been seen before.
Betelgeuse first gained attention in late 2019 when the star that shone like a red jewel on Orion’s upper right shoulder experienced an unexpected dimming. The supergiant continued to go dark in 2020.
Some scientists have predicted that the star will explode as a supernova, and they’ve been trying to determine what happened to it ever since.
Now, astronomers have analyzed data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, and they believe the star is experiencing a massive surface mass ejection, losing a significant portion of its visible surface.
“We’ve never seen a large mass launch on the surface of a star before. Something is going on that we don’t fully understand,” said Andrea Dupree, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics. Harvard & Smithsonian issued a statement in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“This is a completely new phenomenon that we can directly observe with Hubble and work out the surface details. We monitor the evolution of stars in real time.”
Our sun regularly experiences coronal mass ejections, in which parts of the star’s outer atmosphere are released, known as the corona. If this space weather hits Earth, it could have an impact on satellite-based communications and power grids.
However, the surface mass ejection experienced by Betelgeuse was released. More than 400 billion times the mass of a typical coronal mass ejection from the sun.
Observing Betelgeuse and its unusual behavior has allowed astronomers to monitor what happens towards the end of a star’s life.
As Betelgeuse burned the fuel in its core, it swelled to massive proportions, becoming a red supergiant. The massive star is 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) across.
Eventually, the star will explode in a supernova, an event that can be briefly seen on Earth during the day. Meanwhile, the star is having some fiery tantrums.
The amount of mass that stars lose as they burn through nuclear fusion late in their lives can affect their survival. But even losing a significant amount of surface mass is not a sign that Betelgeuse is ready to explode, according to astronomers.
Astronomers like Dupree have studied how the star behaved before, during, and after the explosion. trying to understand what’s going on.
Scientists believe that a convective cloud extending more than 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) originates from within the star. The plume created shocks and vibrations that triggered an explosion and peeled off part of the star’s outer shell, called the photosphere.
Part of Betelgeuse’s photosphere, several times heavier than the moon, was released into space. As the mass cooled, it formed a large dust cloud that blocked the star’s light when viewed through Earth telescopes.
Betelgeuse is one of the brightest stars in Earth’s night sky, so its dimming that lasts for several months, both observatories and backyard telescopes.
Astronomers have measured Betelgeuse’s rhythm for 200 years. The pulse of this star is essentially a cycle of dimming and enlightenment that begins every 400 days. That pulse has stopped for now – a testament to how important the explosion is.
Dupree believes the internal convection cells of the pulsating star are still echoing from the explosion, comparing it to the churning of an unstable washing machine tub.
telescope data He showed that as Betelgeuse slowly healed, the star’s outer layer returned to normal, but its surface remained flexible as the photosphere was rebuilt.
“Betelgeuse continues to do very unusual things right now,” Dupree said. “The interior is kind of bouncing.”
Astronomers had never before seen a star lose so much of its visible surface, suggesting that surface mass ejections and coronal ejections could be two very different things.
Researchers will have a better chance to observe the mass ejected from the star using the James Webb Space Telescope, which could reveal additional clues through otherwise invisible infrared light.
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