A New Form of Space Weather on Betelgeuse

Posted: August 18, 2022 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Solar physics

“We’re watching stellar evolution in real time.”


August 12, 2022: You’ve heard of a CME, a “coronal mass ejection.” They happen all the time. A piece of the sun’s tenuous outer atmosphere (corona) blows off and sometimes hits Earth. Something far more terrible has happened to Betegeuse. The red giant star produced an SME, or “surface mass ejection.”

Above: An artist’s concept of an SME on Betelgeuse. Credit: Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Astronomers believe that in 2019 a colossal piece of Betelgeuse’s surface blew off the star. The mass of the SME was 400 billion times greater than a CME or several times the mass of Earth’s Moon. Data from multiple telescopes, especially Hubble, suggest that a convective plume more than a million miles across bubbled up from deep inside the star, producing shocks and pulsations that blasted a chunk off the surface.

“We’ve never before seen such a huge mass ejection from the surface of a…

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  1. dscott8186 says:

    The accretion disk theory has a possible real world alternate planetary formation process. What’s to say that our sun hasn’t performed a SME in the distant past? We are tracking thousands (2,288 as of today’s count) of asteroids even in or crossing our own orbit, shouldn’t the inner planets have swept up this material by now if the sun didn’t do SMEs?

  2. JB says:

    My take is all they observed was a collision or flyby that produced an ejection.
    And they’re definitely not watching “stellar evolution.”

    “Data from multiple telescopes, especially Hubble, suggest…”
    This is an admission they don’t really know what is happening, so they interpret the phenomenon through the constriction of their unfounded cosmic speculations.

  3. ichor0 says:

    I think it is possible they are misinterpreting data. For something to break like this there needs to be a seam, a part weaker than the rest. Theorized stellar plasma under magnetism might be capable, I suppose, of a linear seam. But a circular seam? No way.

    Also stellar plasma is said to not collapse from gravity by outbound radiation. This is canon though it has always been a bit shaky. But let’s accept it. Wouldn’t such a object always have symmetry in all directions? -again bringing up the question how could a chunk of a star blow outwards.

    In contrast condensed matter can behave like this, in theory, because it does not compress. Also difficult to explain a chunk exploding outwards, but less so. Hence me wondering if the data is being misinterpreted.

  4. Curious George says:

    A beautiful artist’s concept. Not an observation.

  5. Gamecock says:

    Yeah, it looks good, George, but . . . .

    Image 2 is 8 months later than image 1. Yet we still have the bright stellar glow in the ejected mass. Then dark cloud 4 months later. This makes no sense. The fusion process could not have progressed this way.

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