It might take another hundred millennia until Betelgeuse, the giant red star, meets its end in a fiery explosion, says a new study conducted by an international team of researchers.
About The Research
Dr. Meridith Joyce from The Australian National University (ANU) led the study, which suggests that Betelgeuse has an extra chance at life and places it closer to Earth while also proving that it’s smaller than previously thought.
Dr. Joyce claims that the supergiant, a member of the Orion constellation, has long puzzled scientists, especially considering it started behaving abnormally lately.
Dr. Joyce said:
“It’s normally one of the brightest stars in the sky, but we’ve observed two drops in the brightness of Betelgeuse since late 2019.”
“This prompted speculation it could be about to explode. But our study offers a different explanation […] We know the first dimming event involved a dust cloud. We found the second smaller event was likely due to the pulsations of the star,” she added.
The scientists managed to use hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to learn more about the physics behind the pulsations and better understand Betelgeuse’s current life phase.
Co-Author Dr. Shing-Chi Leung from the University of Tokyo says that the analysis confirmed that “pressure waves – essentially, sound waves” are the reason for Betelgeuse’s pulsation.
Betelgeuse is currently burning helium in its core, meaning that it is nowhere near exploding, Dr. Joyce said.
Dr. László Molnár, the co-author of the study from the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, spoke about the conclusions of the study regarding the star’s size and distance from our planet:
“The actual physical size of Betelgeuse has been a bit of a mystery — earlier studies suggested it could be bigger than the orbit of Jupiter. Our results say Betelgeuse only extends out to two-thirds of that, with a radius 750 times the radius of the sun,”
It turns out that Betelgeuse is approximately 530 light-years away from us, about 25% closer than previously thought.