Betelgeuse Is About To Go Supernova And It Will Shine Brighter Than Full Moon in the Night Sky, New Research Reveals

Betelgeuse: A Supernova in the Making

Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star located a little over 650 light-years from Earth, is on the brink of a spectacular end. Recent research suggests that this star, known for its pulsations and unusual brightness, is nearing the end of its life and is set to explode as a supernova within our lifetime. This event, when it occurs, will be one of the most significant astronomical events of the century, creating a light in the night sky brighter than a full moon.

The Pulsating Giant

Betelgeuse, one of the largest stars visible to the naked eye, has been the subject of intense astronomical interest due to its erratic brightness changes. The star's outer layers pulse in a rhythm, causing it to swell and shrink, leading to changes in brightness. These pulsations have been tracked with regular cycles of 185, 230, 420, and 2,200 days, with additional less predictable variations. The great dimming of 2019-20 was partly caused by an outburst of dust, but also involved the troughs of several cycles coinciding. This pulsation, combined with the star's enormous size and relatively close proximity to Earth, makes Betelgeuse a unique object of study for astronomers.

The Countdown to Explosion

The recent changes in Betelgeuse's brightness might be more significant than we thought. A preprint study indicates that the red giant is fusing carbon in its core, and when this runs out, it will be only a few decades before it explodes. The study argues that Betelgeuse is not only burning carbon but is starting to run out. Once the carbon-burning phase finishes, the end is a matter of a few decades away. This discovery, if confirmed, could provide us with a rare opportunity to witness a supernova explosion within our lifetime.

The Impending Supernova

The impending explosion of Betelgeuse will result in a supernova, a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. The explosion of Betelgeuse will create a light similar in brightness to the full Moon. Although supernovas can cause great damage to planets in their galactic neighborhood, Betelgeuse is far enough away to not do any damage, while still giving us a front-row view of possibly the galaxy’s first supernova since 1604.

The Uncertainty of Timing

While the research suggests that Betelgeuse is set to explode within our lifetime, the exact timing remains uncertain. The star could explode in a few decades, or it could still be thousands of years away. The uncertainty stems from the difficulty in determining Betelgeuse's exact size and the stage of its life. However, the recent changes in its brightness and the new research findings suggest that the explosion could happen sooner rather than later.

The explosion of Betelgeuse as a supernova will be a spectacular event, providing a unique opportunity for astronomers to study a supernova up close. As we continue to monitor Betelgeuse, we will undoubtedly learn more about the life and death of stars, enriching our understanding of the universe.

Research Paper