What happened to the Betelgeuse?
Betelgeuse is one of the most easily recognizable stars in the night sky in the Orion constellation. But its brightness suddenly dropped in late 2019. Astronomers conduct a rigorous examination of it by drawing on the synthesis of new observational data and three different modeling techniques.
Their observational results include the release of new, processed photometric measurements collected with the space-based Solar Mass Ejection Imager instrument prior to Betelgeuse’s recent, unprecedented dimming event.
What did the calculations of astronomers result in?
Their theoretical predictions included self-consistent results from multi-timescale evolutionary, oscillatory, and hydrodynamic simulations conducted with the Modules for Experiments in the Stellar Astrophysics software suite. They made a precise prediction for the star’s radius by modeling.
Astronomers thought it could explode. But this new study offers a different explanation. The first dimming event involved a dust cloud. They found that the second smaller event was likely due to the pulsations of the star.
The researchers were able to use hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to learn more about these pulsations and get exact details of the present phase of the Betelgeuse. It was found to be burning helium in its core which proved that it wouldn’t explode in the near future.
It could take at least 1,00,000 more years to explode. Their results concluded that Betelgeuse’s radius is 750 times the solar radius and it is located at a distance of 530 light-years from the Earth, which is 25% closer than previously thought.
The study was funded by The Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (WPI), The University of Tokyo, and facilitated by the ANU Distinguished Visitor’s program. It involved researchers from the United States, Hungary, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. The research was been published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Reference – Meridith Joyce et al. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: New Mass and Distance Estimates for Betelgeuse through Combined Evolutionary, Asteroseismic, and Hydrodynamic Simulations with MESA, The Astrophysical Journal (2020). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/abb8db
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