Recently, the attention of the astronomers has been riveted on the Betelgeuse, this red giant may become a supernova. The scientists believe that a large-scale explosion could have a certain impact on our planet. The star is clearly visible in the night sky. A new research suggests that the Betelgeuse is actually much closer and smaller than is has been previously thought. But one day it will explode just like a supernova. While science is not undertaking to make predictions when this event will occur.
The researchers at the Australian National University believe that an explosion should not be expected in the next 100 thousand years. Nevertheless, they continue to monitor the Betelgeuse, and especially the blackout that was believed to be caused by the resulting cloud of dust.
The repetition of the effect, observed from the Earth, could have another reason. At the end of last year, the star became significantly dimmer and the astronomers concluded that it was due to the powerful ejection of a large amount of material from the star that cooled. The same phenomenon has been repeated this year. The double dip in the Betelgeuse's brightness could be caused by the star about to explode.
A new study has offered a different explanation. It is likely that the observed event may be associated with pulsations of stars. Meridith Joyce, who is an astronomer at the Australian National University, believes the Betelgeuse is still synthesizing helium, which means its stable state, not associated with a supernova.
The scientists created a computer model and placed Betelgeuse at the center of the Solar System, and then it went beyond the orbit of the Jupiter. Its body can only reach two-thirds of this distance, which is about 765 times the diameter of the Sun.
Given these dimensions, the astronomers have determined that the Betelgeuse is only 530 light years from the Earth, 25% closer than it has been previously thought. In fact, the Betelgeuse is the closest star to the Earth that can go supernova.
By observing its behavior, the scientists intend to find out what consequences a large-scale explosion will bring. It is possible that it will cause mass extinction of living organisms on our planet.