The Fainting of Betelgeuse — Update

Posted: January 12, 2020 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Measurement, News

This enormous star seems to be fading fast.

Jan. 10, 2020: One day, perhaps in our lifetimes, perhaps a million years from now, the red giant Betelgeuse will dim a little–and then explode. The resulting supernova will rival the full Moon and cast shadows after dark, completely transforming the night skies of Earth. No wonder astronomers are closely tracking the current “fainting of Betelgeuse.”

“Fainting” is an actual astronomical term. It means dimming, the opposite of brightening. And right now, Betelgeuse is definitely fainting.

Brian-Ottum-Betelgeuse_Fainting_4x4_dated_1577930828  Betelgeuse photographed by Brian Ottum of Animas, New Mexico, almost 4 years apart using the same telescope and observing methods. 

Edward Guinan of Villanova University and colleagues caused a minor sensation last month when they reported “[Betelgeuse] has been declining in brightness since October 2019, now reaching a modern all-time low of V = +1.12 mag on 07 December 2019 UT. Currently this is the faintest the star has been during our…

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  1. […] über The Fainting of Betelgeuse — Update — Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  2. oldbrew says:

    If human eyes were sensitive to radiation at all wavelengths, Betelgeuse would appear as the brightest star in the night sky.

  3. oldbrew says:

    astro – yes, Wiki mentions those cycles too…

    A pulsating semiregular variable star, Betelgeuse is subject to multiple cycles of increasing and decreasing brightness due to changes in its size and temperature.[12]
    – – –

    OTOH it’s expected to explode within the next 100,000 years or so.

  4. Annie says:

    A facetious comment by me, no doubt. I am puzzled that the opposites of faint and bright should not produce ‘faintening’ and ‘brightening’. Surely if something can brighten, it could also fainten. Fainting is a word for something quite different; pass me the smelling salts m’dear!

  5. oldbrew says:

    A new theory…

    Bright star Betelgeuse might be harboring a deep, dark secret
    By Adam Mann an hour ago

    The giant red star Betelgeuse might be harboring a gruesome secret in its past. A new model posits that the prominent night-sky object was once two stars, until the larger star ate its smaller companion. And that could explain several of Betelgeuse’s peculiar properties.

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