Wednesday, October 5

Supergiant star Betelgeuse explodes at its top | Digital Trends Spanish


One of the brightest stars in the sky, the nearby red supergiant Betelgeuse, has been the source of fascination in recent years as it dimmed and then brightened dramatically again. Now, new data from Hubble Space Telescope show that the star blew off a large part of its mass in 2019, creating a cloud of dust that obscured its light and caused the dimming effect.

The explosion of such a large chunk of matter is a rare event called a surface mass ejection, similar to the coronal mass ejection events seen in our sun and other stars, but much, much larger. The surface mass ejection spewed out an almost unimaginable mass 400 billion times more than a standard coronal mass ejection, creating huge changes in the star’s structure and behavior.

This illustration traces the changes in brightness of the red supergiant star Betelgeuse, following titanic mass ejections from much of its visible surface. The escaping material cooled to form a cloud of dust that temporarily made the star appear dimmer, as seen from Earth. This unprecedented stellar convulsion interrupted the monster star’s 400-day-long wobble period that astronomers had measured for more than 200 years. The interior may now be shaking like a plate of jello dessert.NASA, ESA, Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Hubble data was used in conjunction with data from ground-based telescopes to create this illustration, showing how dramatically the star’s brightness changed as it shed mass and formed a large cloud of dust. This event is a new insight into the life of huge red stars like Betelgeuse, which is nearing the end of its life and will eventually go supernova.

“We have never seen such a large mass ejection from the surface of a star before,” lead researcher Andrea Dupree, of the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian, said in a report. release. “We’re left with something going on that we don’t fully understand. It’s a totally new phenomenon that we can directly observe and resolve surface details with Hubble. We are seeing stellar evolution in real time.”

Dupree also said the event had left its mark on Betelgeuse’s structure, with the interior behaving particularly strangely and “kind of bouncing around.” The mass of matter ejected from the star was several times the mass of our moon, and its loss will also change the star’s brightness pulsation rate. Previously, Betelgeuse had slowly brightened and dimmed over a 400-day cycle, but now this cycle has been interrupted and scientists aren’t sure how the star will develop in the future.

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