Giant star mysteriously lost its brightness, we finally know why

The red supergiant star Betelgeuse lost two-thirds of its brightness in six months.

Betelgeuse is probably one of the most famous stars of the general public. The red supergiant located in the constellation Orion is about 1000 times larger than our Sun. In the fall of 2019, the star began to fade in brightness. A darkness so sudden that after 6 months he got lost two thirds of its luster.

Betelgeuse’s “Great Dimming”. Credits: ESO / M. montargeso

Betelgeuse, the star darkens mysteriously and suddenly

At the time, this observation took astronomers’ breath away. Very quickly, the scientific community formulated a number of hypotheses on possible causes for this sudden loss of brightness. One of them in particular believed that Betelgeuse was preparing to enter a supernova. But a recent development has ruled out that possibility, leaving the mystery behind for this drop in brightness.

Indeed, a new study has refuted this hypothesis. According to this, entry into a supernova cannot explain the phenomenon. “Our results confirm that Great Dimming is not No sign of Betelgeuse’s imminent eruption as a supernova. Some red supergiants may show little or no sign of the collapse of their adjacent nuclei, years or even weeks before it happens. » Announced Doctor Miguel Montarges.

Betelgeuse did not darken after seeing a supernova

The astronomer posted a thread on Twitter where he cited the ESO study to explain the reasons for this “Great Darkening”, or Great Dimming, as it is called. “The Great Dimming of Betelgeuse was Localized cooling of the photosphere Which in turn triggered the concentration of dust in a cloud of gas ejected by the star months earlier. » he clarified.

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However, this does not mean that Betelgeuse cannot go supernova without warning. “Therefore, although the current mass, the loss behavior of Betelgeuse does not foreshadow its demise, It’s possible it explodes without warning. » Specified Doctor Montarges. Supernovas are known for their intense explosions caused by the bursting of stars at the end of their lives.


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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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