No, Betelgeuse will not go supernova in ‘decades’ or even centuries.

The expiration date of Betelgeuse, a massive dying star about 642 light-years from Earth, is a hot topic in astronomy because of the star’s superlative size and phase in its life cycle.

Betelgeuse is between 10 and 20 times the mass of the Sun and about 900 times larger in radius. It is burning fast and will soon die (in cosmic terms).

When a star dies, it ejects most of its material into space in an amazing explosion called a supernova. When the conditions are right, a supernova leaves behind a calming nebula.

Our sun will go through this process in about 5 billion years., but Betelgeuse is much closer to endgame. And the stars of the distant universe always supernova transitBetelgeuse is in our galaxy, basically on our doorstep in cosmic terms.

Earlier this month, a research team Paper on the pre-print server arXiv. In the paper, the team hypothesizes that Betelgeuse is already in a “later stage of core carbon burning” and thus a clear candidate for our galaxy’s most imminent supernova. “According to these figures, the core will collapse within a few decades after carbon depletion,” the researchers wrote.

on social media, some have taken this to mean that supernovae will occur in the next century or even decades to come. But carbon burning is a slow process. Betelgeuse—You can use as much as you like without supernatural phenomena. effectIt’s at that point.

In an email to Gizmodo, Hideyuki Saio, an astronomer at Tohoku University and lead author of the preprint, told Gizmodo that the team predicts that the supernova will occur “within a few hundred years.”

Betelgeuse in the Orion constellation image (top right, orange).

Rumors surrounding Saio to some extent The revised timeline is a victim of those who don’t read his team’s conclusions closely. paper. But despite this, scientists unaffiliated with the study say the team’s model doesn’t explain the stellar situation.

“It’s impossible to see what’s going on inside our own sun, let alone a star hundreds of light-years away,” said University of Heidelberg astronomer Emily Hunt, who was not involved in the latest paper. Call Gizmodo. “Just because a model explains an observation doesn’t mean it’s accurate.”

Hunt added, “It’s really sad to see so many people accept this one paper as a gospel when it’s really just an interpretation of observations.”

Betelgeuse is quite young—about 10 million years—but it will burn out much faster than the sun. In the process of evolution, Betelgeuse may have changed the color of the night sky. Ancient descriptions of stars characterized red balls of gas as more yellow..

SPHERE image showing Betelgeuse's Great Dimming.

In recent years, Betelgeuse has carried an unusual amount of activity, spurring discussion about when a fateful supernova could occur. In 2019, the star caused a surface mass ejection, ejecting about 400 billion times more mass from the surface than either of the Sun’s Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). According to NASA.

The massive star has dimmed considerably. This period is known as the Great Dimming. Astronomers now believe that the cause of the clouding is: Star burps eject dust from the star, partially obscuring Betelgeuse in view.

“It is unlikely that Betelgeuse evolved as they claim,” said an astronomer at the Sorbonne Université. 2021 Nature Papers An email to Gizmodo describes the dust that covered Betelgeuse. “However, if Betelgeuse has previously had material exchanges with companions hidden inside stars or close to the star itself, or deceased companions in the past, we may face a single non-stellar evolution with many uncertain parameters. This will leave the debate open for evolution.”

Montargès said the team’s model required a larger solar radius (about 1,300 solar lengths) than observed (about 800 solar radii). 900 solar radii), and if Betelgeuse shrinks as much as the team claims, astronomers will see the star’s yielding material.

Montargès added, “It should be emphasized that, with current knowledge, Betelgeuse should be burning a helium core and explode in at least a few tens of thousands of years, assuming a non-interacting star scenario where we have no reason to discard it.”

An illustration showing how dust grains obstruct Earthlings' view of Betelgeuse due to ejection of matter.

Annoyingly, it is not clear from observations what stage of Betelgeuse’s burnout, i.e. what elements the star is currently using for fuel. Stars burn other fuels (i.e. hydrogen and helium) as they progress through their life cycle, and carbon burning occurs in the star’s death throes.

“One of the difficulties with this problem is that carbon-burning Betelgeuse might look exactly like it does now, and that’s why there’s this debate,” Meridith Joyce, an astronomer at the Konkoly Observatory in Hungary, told Gizmodo in an email. “If you could easily tell whether a star is helium-burning or carbon-burning just by observation, you could stop arguing!”

with two co-authors Joyce You posted a comment Research Notes from the American Astronomical Society refute the Saio team’s paper. Joyce’s team hypothesized that Saio’s team had made a claim using the wrong radius for Betelgeuse, and that the way they modeled the stars ultimately yielded an incorrect (i.e. too early) timeline for Betelgeuse’s finale.

“Our team claims Betelgeuse’s time to supernova is about 100,000 years, a number that comes (mostly) from helium burning conditions,” Joyce added. “Anything more accurate than that would be unscientific. There are too many unknowns in stellar modeling.”

Everyone agrees that measuring Betelgeuse’s distance more clearly would be useful for determining the star’s true brightness and where it is in its life cycle.

Everyone wants to see a star die. So people say Saio et al. paper. If research finds that Betelgeuse will go supernova sooner than previous papers predicted (and timescales of centuries are very fast from a stellar perspective), than studies asserting that Betelgeuse still has a long way to go. It’s bound to generate more buzz. .

But if you want to see a supernova, it’s best to look beyond the local supergiants. Montargès discovered the stars eta Carinae and VY Canis Majoris (at the Minnesota Astrophysical Laboratory). “Steroid Betelgeuse”) is a better choice for our galaxy’s next supernova.

Or you can always wait for a space telescope like web or hubble Imaging the next supernova somewhere in more distant space. other telescopes Rubin Observatory in Chile to open soon— aims to continuously image the night sky to capture fleeting events, such as the start of a supernova, as they occur.

See more: How do we know when the sun will die?

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