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Waspie_Dwarf

Telescope Sees Surface of Dim Betelgeuse

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Waspie_Dwarf

ESO Telescope Sees Surface of Dim Betelgeuse

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eso2003a.jpg

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in the constellation of Orion. The stunning new images of the star’s surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing.

Betelgeuse has been a beacon in the night sky for stellar observers but it began to dim late last year. At the time of writing Betelgeuse is at about 36% of its normal brightness, a change noticeable even to the naked eye. Astronomy enthusiasts and scientists alike were excitedly hoping to find out more about this unprecedented dimming.

arrow3.gif  Read More: ESO

 

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RoofGardener

Meh .. that's not Betelgeuse. 

Where's Michael Keaton

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susieice

Dumb questions @Waspie_Dwarf. It takes 650 yrs for the light from Betelgeuse to reach us. So did what we are seeing now actually occur that long ago? Also, can a telescope decrease that time frame in any way? It just doesn't seem to me as though it could.

Edited by susieice

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Waspie_Dwarf
34 minutes ago, susieice said:

Dumb questions @Waspie_Dwarf.

There is nothing dumb about the questions.

 

40 minutes ago, susieice said:

It takes 650 yrs for the light from Betelgeuse to reach us. So did what we are seeing now actually occur that long ago?

From the point of view of someone at Betelgeuse, yes it happened 650 years ago. However that is largely irrelevant because there is no way of information travelling faster than light, so from our point of view it is happening now.

Think of it like hearing thunder, someone closer to the storm will hear the thunder before you, but that is irrelevant to you, from your point of view the thunder is happening at the moment you hear it.

 

38 minutes ago, susieice said:

Also, can a telescope decrease that time frame in any way? It just doesn't seem to me as though it could.

No, A telescope can make dim objects brighter and magnify what you see but it can't alter how long the light takes to arrive.

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susieice
17 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

There is nothing dumb about the questions.

 

From the point of view of someone at Betelgeuse, yes it happened 650 years ago. However that is largely irrelevant because there is no way of information travelling faster than light, so from our point of view it is happening now.

Think of it like hearing thunder, someone closer to the storm will hear the thunder before you, but that is irrelevant to you, from your point of view the thunder is happening at the moment you hear it.

 

No, A telescope can make dim objects brighter and magnify what you see but it can't alter how long the light takes to arrive.

Thank you Waspie. It takes light so long to travel that I'm wondering if Betelgeuse is still in the same condition as what we are seeing now. All through human history, ancient civilizations recorded the bright star in the belt of Orion in their religions and beliefs. Now it's really dim.

Edited by susieice

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Waspie_Dwarf
54 minutes ago, susieice said:

It takes light so long to travel that I'm wondering if Betelgeuse is still in the same condition as what we are seeing now.

If, as some astronomers believe, this behaviour is leading to an imminent supernova then Betelgeuse doesn't exist any more.

 

1 hour ago, susieice said:

All through human history, ancient civilizations recorded the bright star in the belt of Orion in their religions and beliefs.

Betelgeuse is not one of the stars of Orion's belt, it represents Orion's shoulder (the name actually derives from the Arabic for, "shoulder of the central one".

 

56 minutes ago, susieice said:

Now it's really dim.

It's still one of the brighter stars, it's just 36% less bright than it was a few months ago. Betelgeuse is a known variable star. It has periodically dimmed in brightness, just not this quickly or by this amount. 

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Waspie_Dwarf
3 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

If, as some astronomers believe, this behaviour is leading to an imminent supernova then Betelgeuse doesn't exist any more. 

It's worth pointing out that most astronomers don't believe a supernova is imminent and that Betelgeuse still has many thousands of years left.

When it does go supernova it will be easily visible in the day and will cast shadows at night. It may even out shine the full moon.

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susieice
20 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

If, as some astronomers believe, this behaviour is leading to an imminent supernova then Betelgeuse doesn't exist any more.

 

Betelgeuse is not one of the stars of Orion's belt, it represents Orion's shoulder (the name actually derives from the Arabic for, "shoulder of the central one".

 

It's still one of the brighter stars, it's just 36% less bright than it was a few months ago. Betelgeuse is a known variable star. It has periodically dimmed in brightness, just not this quickly or by this amount. 

Thanks Waspie. I always thought it was the kind of reddish looking star on the belt. I learned something. 

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Waspie_Dwarf
1 hour ago, susieice said:

Thanks Waspie. I always thought it was the kind of reddish looking star on the belt. I learned something. 

Betelgeuse is most definitely red.

Here is an image of Orion that I have generated using the Stellarium software that shows the location of Betelgeuse and the belt.

Orion.jpg.7e651ec08822c176bf630526de59f414.jpg

The three stars in the middle of the image, Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka are Orion's belt. Below the belt (mid-way between Alnitak and Saiph) are what look three brightish stars. This is the sword of Orion. In fact only two of these are stars. The middle one is the famous Orion Nebula.

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