Dimming of Betelgeuse: Here’s Why the Glow of One of Brightest Stars Faded

Science

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Betelgeuse, once said to be the ninth brightest star in the sky, began to dim rapidly in December 2019. Even though Betelgeuse was always a "variable" star, meaning its brightness would fluctuate, as of February 2020 it had reported a loss of about two. - a third of its brightness. This made astronomers wonder whether it was soon going to explode as a supernova. A team of scientists has discovered the reason behind the fast rate at which the star is getting dim. He said the dimming was not a sign of the explosion of Betelgeuse, which is known as the gleaming right shoulder of the constellation Orion.

The team of scientists said the most likely explanation could be a giant cloud of dust that makes the star appear dim to those on Earth.

The study titled 'A dusty veal shedding Betelgeuse during its great dimming' is published in which journal? Nature magazine. The authors said at the start of the paper that observations and modeling support a scenario in which "a dust clump has recently formed in the vicinity of the star". However, the authors have also added that some red supergiants, such as the one Betelgeuse, "have no indication of their impending core collapse, for several weeks before it occurs".

But he explained that the current mass-loss behavior of the giant star, about 15 times that of the Sun, shows no sign of its imminent eruption, it may explode without warning. After their research, the authors can explore four scenarios explaining Betelgeuse's Great Dimming.

First, they said there may be a (potentially local) decrease in the star's effective temperature, which would cause it to faint. The second, according to him, was an occult by the newly formed dust. Third, an occultation by the transit of dust in front of the star and changes in angular diameter.

They then check each scenario against their observations and dismiss the third and fourth scenarios outright. "Our findings suggest that a component of the mass loss from red supergiants is inhomogeneous, which is associated with a very contrasting and rapidly changing photosphere," he said.

Having said that, it cannot be denied that Betelgeuse will someday go supernova, if not immediately. Miguel Montarges, an astrophysicist at the Catholic University-Leuven in Belgium and the paper's lead author, said in 2019: "But I'm not holding my breath for it."

In the same year it was reported that although the supergiant was nearing the end of its lifespan, it may still be up to 100,000 years before the star begins to die out.


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