Betelgeuse Saga Sunday

THE CHANGING SHAPE OF BETELGEUSE: Betelgeuse isn’t just dimming, it’s also changing shape. Today, the European Southern Observatory released new images of Betelgeuse from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama desert. The unstable red supergiant is definitely lopsided:

A team led by Miguel Montargès of KU Leuven in Belgium took the picture in Dec. 2019, shortly after the star began its unprecedented dimming. They were able to compare it to a “normal” picture of Betelgeuse taken 11 months earlier. The change in shape is striking.

What’s going on? The researchers aren’t sure why Betelgeuse looks so different, but they suspect the involvement of dust. Red supergiants like Betelgeuse create and eject vast amounts of dusty material, losing mass even before they explode as supernovas. The lopsided shape and dimming of Betelgeuse might be explained if a cloud of dust is partially blocking its disk. Indeed, VLT infrared observations of Betelgeuse at the same time reveal lots of dust around the star.:

Above: Clouds of dust around Betelgeuse. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella/M. Montargès et al. [more]

Mystery solved? Not necessarily. “Our knowledge of red supergiants remains incomplete, and this is still a work in progress, so a surprise can still happen,” notes Montargès. Other possibilities include magnetic activity on Betelgeuse’s surface (such as a giant starspot) and, of course, the early stages of a supernova explosion.

The Very Large Telescope with its adaptive optics instruments is one of the few facilities in the world capable of imaging the surface of Betelgeuse, located more than 600 light years away. More images from the Atacama desert may yet reveal what’s happening–if Betelgeuse doesn’t tell us first!


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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12 Responses to Betelgeuse Saga Sunday

  1. Micki says:

    Governments that use their enormous power of law enforcement to punish enemies and reward family, friends and other allies are not constitutional republics.

    They are autocracies.

    Welcome to the United States of American, 2020.


  2. Micki says:

    He didn’t get booed at Daytona…wish he had. But they love him.



    • °¿º arol says:

      More people hate him than like him, more after 3 years of his crap. Have to hope those folks get out there and VOTE! People were pretty fed up and voted bigly in 2018, sweeping Dems into the House. Hope they can rid us of McConnell and the rest of the senate repukes.


  3. David B. Benson says:

    Patches of blue sky through the, now lightly, falling snow. Never seen before.


  4. °¿º arol says:

    Dusted the living room today, and high time. Last night I planned that I would dust the whole house today, as usual, that didn’t pan out but at least the LR got done.

    Tonight’s plan is to do the two bedrooms and this computer room tomorrow. We’ll see if THAT pans out.


  5. David B. Benson says:

    The climate change badge from Zazzle arrived. Looks sharp.


  6. David B. Benson says:

    Very few out & about during the 16 minutes to the north door of the Hillside Cafe.


  7. David B. Benson says:

    Betelgeuse is a corruption from Arabic meaning “the arm of Orion”.


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