May 29, 2023

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The nearby red giant appears to have expelled a large portion of its surface

The nearby red giant appears to have expelled a large portion of its surface

It turns out that the now-famous star Betelgeuse produced an unprecedentedly violent mass ejection in 2019. However, this giant spasm doesn’t mean the star is about to explode.

Do you remember the incident Betelgeuse? This red giant, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, It was in the news in 2019. This is because the red-colored star usually glows very brightly. However, its brightness suddenly weakened very quickly in October of 2019. Researchers now believe they know what happened at that time: the famous star blew an unprecedentedly large portion of its surface into space.

what is going on?
The star Betelgeuse is about 600 light-years from Earth. However, the star is easy to see on clear evenings. He is very fierce. In addition, Betelgeuse is clearly distinguished from other stars by the red color that it possesses. In 2019, the star lost its credibility because its brightness decreased rapidly. Although red giants regularly show variations in brightness, the astonishing decrease in the brightness of Betelgeuse has come as a surprise to astronomers. By December 7, the brightness had dropped to a magnitude of +1.12. And in mid-February, Betelgeuse was only 36% of its normal brightness. Significant decrease can be seen even with the naked eye. Betelgeuse has not experienced such limited brightness in the more than 25 years that astronomers have observed the star. This phenomenon is beautifully captured as well Get unique pictures from the very large telescope.

It is not uncommon for stars to throw pieces of the surface away. Our Sun is also shoving away fragments of its thin outer shell – the corona. These eruptions are also known as coronal mass ejections. But Betelgeuse was very hot. For example, the red giant appears to be ejecting a mass about 400 billion (!) times greater than a normal coronal mass ejection.

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The researchers made the discovery after examining data from the Hubble telescope, among other things. It is an amazing team. “We’ve never experienced such a massive mass ejection from the surface of a star,” said researcher Andrea Dupre. “There is something going on that we don’t quite understand yet. It is a completely new phenomenon.”

Titan Oberst’s 2019 eruption may have been caused by a massive plume emanating from the depths of the star. The plume caused shocks and pulsations, causing the star to expel much of the photosphere (the star’s luminous outer part). This piece blasted into space, cooled and then formed a huge cloud of dust that obscured the star’s light as seen by observers from Earth.

This illustration shows changes in the brightness of the red giant Betelgeuse, after the giant mass was expelled from much of its visible surface. The seep cooled into a cloud of dust that made the star temporarily faint as seen from Earth. Image: NASA, ESA and Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

The new observations provide clues to how the red giants lost mass late in their lives, before they exploded in a supernova. The amount of mass loss has a significant impact on this fateful end. Because in fact, Betelgeuse did not last long. This is because it consumes its fuel quickly. Without this fuel – or energy source – the star can no longer compete with gravity and a portion of its mass flows toward the core. This core becomes heavier and heavier, and eventually is doomed to collapse. The result is a massive explosion: a supernova.

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However, researchers stress that Betelgeuse’s strange and surprising behavior is not evidence that the star will explode any time soon. In other words, coronary mass ejection does not necessarily portend its imminent end. In fact, the star appears to be slowly recovering. Newly created images of the giant red giants indicate that the outer layers of Betelgeuse have reasonably been restored. However, the star is fickle. “Betelgeuse continues to do some unusual things right now,” says Dupree. “Its insides bounce a little bit.”

coherent story
Now that researchers have pieced together all the pieces of the puzzle of the star’s erratic behavior before, after and during the explosion, a coherent story emerges of an unprecedented giant spasm of a dying star. The researchers plan to closely monitor the effects of the volcanic eruption. It might even power the James Webb Telescope, which can use an infrared camera to study ejected material as it moves away from the star.

Interestingly, the star’s regular 400-day pulsation was disrupted by the coronal mass ejection. Nearly 200 years ago, astronomers measured this rhythm, but now that steady cycle appears to have disappeared — at least temporarily. This means that the outbreak of Betelgeuse certainly did not go unnoticed. We’ll see what the future holds.