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Waspie_Dwarf

Betelgeuse Braces for a Collision

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Betelgeuse Braces for a Collision

betelgeusesenigmaticenv.png

Betelgeuse’s enigmatic environment

Composite colour image of the Herschel PACS 70, 100, 160 micron-wavelength images of Betelgeuse. North is to the top left, east is to the bottom left, and the image is about 25 arcminutes across.

The star (centre) is surrounded by a clumpy envelope of material in its immediate vicinity. A series of arcs 6–7 arcminutes to the left of the star is material ejected from Betelgeuse as it evolved into a red supergiant star, shaped by its bow shock interaction with the interstellar medium. A faint linear bar of dust is illuminated at a distance of 9 arcminutes and may represent a dusty filament connected to the local Galactic magnetic field or the edge of an interstellar cloud. If so, then Betelgeuse’s motion across the sky implies that the arcs will hit the wall in 5000 years time, with the star colliding with the wall 12 500 years later.

Credits: ESA/Herschel/PACS/L. Decin et al

22 January 2013 Multiple arcs are revealed around Betelgeuse, the nearest red supergiant star to Earth, in this new image from ESA’s Herschel space observatory. The star and its arc-shaped shields could collide with an intriguing dusty ‘wall’ in 5000 years.

Betelgeuse rides on the shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter. It can easily be seen with the naked eye in the northern hemisphere winter night sky as the orange–red star above and to the left of Orion’s famous three-star belt.

Roughly 1000 times the diameter of our Sun and shining 100 000 times more brightly, Betelgeuse’s impressive statistics come with a cost. For this star is likely on its way to a spectacular supernova explosion, having already swelled into a red supergiant and shed a significant fraction of its outer layers.

The new far-infrared view from Herschel shows how the star’s winds are crashing against the surrounding interstellar medium, creating a bow shock as the star moves through space at speeds of around 30 km/s.

A series of broken, dusty arcs ahead of the star’s direction of motion testify to a turbulent history of mass loss.

Closer to the star itself, an inner envelope of material shows a pronounced asymmetric structure. Large convective cells in the star’s outer atmosphere have likely resulted in localised, clumpy ejections of dusty debris at different stages in the past.

An intriguing linear structure is also seen further away from the star, beyond the dusty arcs. While some earlier theories proposed that this bar was a result of material ejected during a previous stage of stellar evolution, analysis of the new image suggests that it is either a linear filament linked to the Galaxy’s magnetic field, or the edge of a nearby interstellar cloud that is being illuminated by Betelgeuse.

If the bar is a completely separate object, then taking into account the motion of Betelgeuse and its arcs and the separation between them and the bar, the outermost arc will collide with the bar in just 5000 years, with the red supergiant star itself hitting the bar roughly 12 500 years later.

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Why are big events like this mentioned if they're not going to happen in our lifetime?

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Why are big events like this mentioned if they're not going to happen in our lifetime?

Because the universe doesn't actually revolve around us.

5,000 years is a blink in the eye in terms of astronomical events. We can learn much from observing this.

But if it is of no personal interest to you, that is fine, but then I have to question the point of you commenting on it.

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I'm sorry that I intruded on your space. It won't happen again.

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Why are big events like this mentioned if they're not going to happen in our lifetime?

Who knows? Maybe it will happen in our lifetime with a bit of 'luck':

Due to misunderstandings caused by the 2009 publication of the star's 15% contraction, Betelgeuse has frequently been the subject of scare stories and rumors suggesting that it will explode within a year, leading to exaggerated claims about the consequences of such an event. The timing and prevalence of these rumors have been linked to broader misconceptions of astronomy, particularly to doomsday predictions relating to the Mayan calendar. In their 2012 study, physicists at the Space Sciences Laboratory point out that the apparent contraction in the star's diameter may be due to the complex dynamics in the star's surrounding nebula and not the star itself, reconfirming that until we better understand the nature of mass loss, predicting the timing of a supernova will remain a challenge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse#Approaching_supernova

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It's great to be able to stand on a rooftop with people and point out Betelgeuse (because of its color and position this is easy to do) and tell them what is about to happen in but a moment of cosmic time and how its explosion will enrich the surrounding area with metals that can later evolve into systems like ours.

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Its a great pic. Even if I wont be around when it goes through the cloud

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One thing we have learned from the little we actually know about our universe is the more we learn,the less we actually knew.This star could go supernova 5 days from now or 5 million years,factors can change in a instant.Until we get further along in science and space most everything is still guesswork.Just my opinion

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That would be awesome to see it supernova. Unfortunately we will probably be dead.

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Wouldn't the 'bow shock wave' of the star's heliosphere (I think that's the term) push the dust aside?...

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Is there any chance the bar could accelerate the countdown to explosion?

I have read in news articles that when Belteguese does finally blow, that for a few months, our sky will appear to have 2 suns, like the Star Wars planet Tatooine, is this true, or is there some exaggeration here?

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Is there any chance the bar could accelerate the countdown to explosion?

I have read in news articles that when Belteguese does finally blow, that for a few months, our sky will appear to have 2 suns, like the Star Wars planet Tatooine, is this true, or is there some exaggeration here?

Here it says 2 weeks, not a few months:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1349383/Betelgeuse-second-sun-Earth-supernova-turns-night-day.html

This an informative article:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/06/the-supermassive-star-betelgeuse-will-its-going-hypernova-impact-earth-todays-most-popular-.html

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Is there any chance the bar could accelerate the countdown to explosion?

I have read in news articles that when Belteguese does finally blow, that for a few months, our sky will appear to have 2 suns, like the Star Wars planet Tatooine, is this true, or is there some exaggeration here?

From what I've read, some stories about what will happen when Betelgeuse goes supernova have been grossly distorted.

Betelgeuse is far too far away to appear the size or brightness of the sun or the brightness of the sun. It will remain a pin-prick dot in the sky, but vastly brighter than it is now.

Its absolute magnitude is about 100,000 times brighter than the sun, but it is 3-4 million times further away and brightness dissipates with the square of the distance, so it would need an increase in brightness far more than even going supernova will create in order to rival the sun in brightness.

It won't be as bright as a full moon but it might appear to the your eye as being far more brilliant because all the light is concentrated into such a tiny point in the sky. I've read that it might be bright enough to cast a faint shadow on a clear moonless night. That's impressive enough to me.

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Thanks guys - great link Abe, cheers. It is very informative.

I suspected the claims might be somewhat exaggerated, Shame, they sounded neat! I agree Archimedes, even a possible shadow is impressive enough. I thought the distance was so far that the Sun would wash out any effect, which is why I was rather suspicious of the claims.

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I think its cool that our astronomical techniques have advanced to the point where we can deduce something like this. :)

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