New Image of Betelgeuse is Just Plain Weird

New Image of Betelgeuse is Just Plain Weird


Betelgeuse has been dramatically dimming since
September of 2019. At first, astronomers thought it would eventually
return to normal brightness, but that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, it’s become even more faint. As of February 2020, Betelgeuse is just 38%
of its normal brightness. And if that weren’t weird enough, new images
from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show the star as it has never appeared before. Welcome back to Launch Pad, I’m Christian
Ready, your friendly neighborhood astronomer. And yeah, Betelgeuse is just getting more
and more weird. To recap, it’s been fading ever since it
became visible once again in September 2019. Initially, it wasn’t a huge surprise because
Betelgeuse is semi-variable star that fluctuates roughly every 420 days or so. But starting in November, it became much fainter
than in previous cycles and by the end of December it had lost nearly half its normal
brightness! Much of the work involving Betelgeuse has
been based on directly measuring its brightness and seeing how it changes in comparison to
nearby, non-variable stars. This is a technique called photometry and
nowadays it can be done by anyone with a telescope and the right camera and software. What’s a lot harder to do, however, is take
a direct image of Betelgeuse. Even though it’s relatively large on the
sky, imaging the star requires ideal observing conditions, ultra-sensitive detectors, and
sophisticated image processing. But in December, a team of astronomers led
by Miguel Montargès of KU Leuven in Belgium managed to image Betelgeuse, and the result
is incredible. I gotta admit, I’ve never seen anything
like this! Some news articles are claiming that Betelgeuse
has physically changed its shape. While that’s certainly possible, it’s a
little hard to conclude from the just the press release image alone. However, it is clear that one part of the
star is very bright while the other is really, really dim. Even better, Montargès’ team just happened
to image Betelgeuse in January 2019. The result is a stunning before and after
comparison. Both images were taken using the SPHERE instrument
mounted on the 8-meter Very Large Telescope in Chile. It’s hard to overstate just how difficult
these observations are. It’s like being able to resolve a quarter
from 100 km away! I love how these images show how radically
Betelgeuse has changed over the course of just a year. It’s clear that there’s much less light
coming from it in the December image. And that, of course, would explain the dimming. And yet, it’s not clear why Betelgeuse appears
so strange in the first place. Like our Sun, Betelgeuse carries energy from
its interior to its surface via convection. But supergiant stars like Betelgeuse are so
large, the convection is very uneven. Remember, if Betelgeuse were placed at the
center of our solar system, its outer edges would reach Jupiter’s orbit. So while our Sun is covered evenly with millions
of small convection cells, Betelgeuse’s distended envelope is just a handful of gigantic
blobs. It should look less like a star and more like
an angry cloud. The outer layers are so far from the star’s
interior the gravitational pull on the surface is very weak. If enough energy gets convected up from the
interior, a chunk of the surface can blow away, forming Betelgeuse’s powerful stellar
wind. If the gas in this wind is enriched with carbon,
it could condense into dust. In fact, another team led by Pierre Kervella
from the Observatory of Paris used the VISIR instrument, also on the Very Large Telescope
to reveal the dust environment surrounding Betelgeuse. The VISIR image was taken around the same
time as the SPHERE image. VISIR uses a disc to block out the star and
its immediate surroundings, which are both bright and must be masked to allow the fainter
dust plumes to be seen. The orange dot in the middle is the SPHERE
image of Betelgeuse’s surface, which, remember, reaches out to Jupiter’s orbit. The dust cloud is formed by Betelgeuse’s
stellar wind. Is it possible that Betelgeuse is fading due
to a clump obscuring dust? Maybe, but that would imply it’s somehow
only obscuring half the star’s surface. Perhaps a large clump of dust was expelled
from the star’s Southern Hemisphere or maybe there’s a clump of orbiting dust just happened
to float past. However, Ed Guinan of Villanova University
and Rick Wasatonic have been monitoring Betelgeuse for the last 40 years using photometry. They were among the first to report on Betelgeuse’s
fading in a pair of Astronomical telegrams in December. In a follow-up telegram on February 1st, Guinan
reports that Betelgeuse has continued to fade since the December image was taken. Betelgeuse’s nominal magnitude is around
+0.5 in middle of the visible part of spectrum, called the V-band. By the end of December it had fallen to about
magnitude +1.5. Now Guinan and Wasatonic report that the star
may have faded further to magnitude +1.62. That would make it as faint as nearby Bellatrix
in the constellation Orion. In other words, it appears that the star has
lost at least 2.5 times its original brightness since September. However, the star doesn’t seem to be fading
as rapidly as it did before, and it may in fact be leveling off. And, in a private communication, Guinan tells
me it’s been holding relatively steady for the last week or so, and if that’s the case
then it may – just may, mind you – be approaching the end of its 420-day pulsation cycle and
we may start to see it brighten again before the end of winter. Or it may just continue to fade and confound
us even more [chuckles]. Still, despite the headlines, there isn’t
any new evidence that Betelgeuse will go supernova anytime soon. I mean, sure, if its core becomes iron it
could supernova tonight, but the reality is that probably won’t happen for another 100,000
years…despite my wishes that it would happen sooner…like tonight…while it’s clear,
and I’m outside looking at it…come on, Betelgeuse, you owe me a solid… I discuss why in my last video on Betelgeuse
so make sure you check that out when we’re done here. In the meantime, make sure you out outside
tonight and take a look at Betelgeuse in the shoulder of Orion. It’s remarkable how faint it’s become. Now if we can just figure out why… Thanks once again to my patrons, especially
Michael Dowling and Steven J Morgan for helping to make Launch Pad Astronomy possible. If you’d like to help out for the price
of a cup of coffee every month, check out my Patreon page. And if you’d like to join me on this journey
of this incredible Universe of ours, please make sure to subscribe and ring that notification
bell so you don’t miss out on any new videos. Until next time, stay curious my friends.

100 thoughts on “New Image of Betelgeuse is Just Plain Weird

  1. Новость вчера вышла на астроньюс уже в ютубе скопировали , а скорее под себя наговорили. .изнаем что светимость Бетельгейзе составляет 36% её обычной мощности и знаем , что её перекрывает пыльное облако .

  2. You're not the only one wishing Betelguese would give us a show to remember. I stood watching it tonight thinking "If only…"

  3. Could Betelgeuse have been hit by a large body? Just a grander scale of the impacts on Jupiter in July 1995 of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9?

  4. It dimmed because a body moved inline and finally slammed into it causing the deformation. Forgot to say I love your channel and work, thank you for doing what you do!!!

  5. It's being slowly consumed by a super massive black hole behind it & it's spaghettifacation that's warping the shape & surges in brightness

  6. Wouldn't the more appropriate statement be "despite the headlines, there is no evidence that Betelgeuse went supernova in 1320AD"?

  7. Couldn't something, we can't see be tugging on the star to cause that bulge? Or would that cause a plasma or gas trail?

  8. The fleet has assymbled and is heading straight this way, blotting out the light with their numbers.
    Thats why Elon is deploying space mines 60 at a time.

  9. This is my theory: The gravitational pull of an approaching black hole is making the matter closer to it to overcome some of the gravitational field of the star itself, so the density in that hemisphere has decreased, so decreasing the pressure and thus the temperature. That is why that hemisphere has become darker, it is colder now than before. See also how the matter of that hemisphere looks as if being pulled by some invisible mass in the bottom right of the picture at 2:10.

  10. I know why. It’s simple. Imagine the radiation of Betelgeuse is like the ocean, in waves. Now, imagine the ocean retreats and retreats, it becomes dim, and dimmer. What’s gonna happen next? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand a big tsunami wave is coming our way, right! It’s all a balance of potentials, energy. No wonder why our Sun is also reacting, being very quiet. Why? Because Betelgeuse is drawing its last breath, drawing energy like a funnel through its north and south axis. It’s starting to collapse, and we can expect at least three very large waves coming our way. After all, we are in almost straight line with the soon to come neutron burst. Why else would the ancient builders had left those three pyramids in Egypt, but as a warning that destruction by fire comes from that big burping ferocious star about to die in the constellation of Orion. Betelgeuse is the left hand holding the sword, the star of doom, Planet X, for it’s a ferocious Sun pierced by a black hole in the shape of an X, slicing the star in four 90 degree chucks with a pitch dark void shaped like an X. Just like the symbol the ancients painted, a cross inside a circle. It’s a sight to behold, so ominous. Betelgeuse is going indeed through one of its ferocious cycles indeed. Let’s see if this is a minor 400 years cycle, or if perhaps it’s going to start pulsating faster and faster until if gives. We just don’t know what kind of wave (tsunami) Betelgeuse will be delivering to Earth. It would be a good idea to repent and make amends, before it’s too late. This might be the Bowls of Wrath of Saint John’s Revelation. You just don’t know for sure; but all those millions upon millions of children butchered inside their moms amount to more than one fifth the population. Apocalipsis predicts one third of humanity will be killed. Thus far 1,500 million since 1973. At the current rate we will have managed to exterminate one third of humanity by 2050. That’s the global agenda. Is there a cause and an effect. Maybe, just maybe we are not the only ones who know about Betelgeuse, and the globalists do, and somehow they think that offering the sacrifice of millions of children they can calm down ferocious Betelgeuse, the Ancient Orange Beast. That is superstition and we need to ban the agenda of those misguided fools. If at all, I would not doubt that even our very own Sun could cry penance, and try to devour us. Humanity is behaving like zombies, killing their own children and families, while chanting healthcare, freedom, liberty. The evil monsters destroyed the Law of the Land when they misinterpreted it by giving the right to privacy superiority to the right to life, which clearly goes against the Declaration of Independence which clearly assigns life a presiding role above all rights. Second to the right to life, is the right to Liberty. Life and Liberty, you can’t have one without the other. Without life, you have no other rights, neither liberty or privacy. The world destroyed our nation when the right to life was deleted. We need to bring it back. That, perhaps, might appease the wrath of Betelgeuse, the star of doom.

  11. Betelgeuse isn't getting dimmer… it's just that the massive alien invasion fleet en route to Earth is just getting closer to us and blocking our view. 👽

  12. The whole "C'mon Betelgeuse, you owe me a solid." thing? YES. Been thinking that for years. I will not give up hope, lol. Sure, I want to see it; but really, I want to see the world see it. It's my hope that something of that magnitude would spark scientific interest across our entire civilization. We could use something like that right now.

  13. "Come on, Betelgeuse, do me solid and let me watch you die already!" Hehe

    Before you say so, I know that wasn't the exact quote he said, just how it came across to me, made me laugh haha.

  14. I don't wish to be difficult…but if dramatic things would happen with Betelgeuse TONIGHT we wouldn't see it for another 5-600 hundred years, right?

  15. Do not go gentle into that goodnight; Old age should burn and rave at close at day,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light

  16. sooo, blah blah blah. this is about the 100th article ive seen about beetlejuice, and they still know nothing. thanks for wasting everybodies time again and again. jerk.

  17. Betelgeuse is on the verge of exploding and no one is doing a damn thing
    about it! The same people who are concerned with Global Warming
    ( Climate Change ) should be sounding the alarm with the United Nations;
    we need to act fast on this! Once this terrible event happens, it will
    be too late to do anything; the damage will have been done. WAKE UP
    people; call your Senator, your Congressman and let them know you expect
    them to do their jobs. With much effort, we human beings can prevent this tragedy!

  18. These simulated images of Betelgeuce have an uncanny resemblance to the dying sun in the opening montage of the 1978 remake of INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS

  19. What percentage of iron that's present today and how much more percentage of iron will it need before going supernova?

  20. she went supernova in jan when we detected gravitational waves from there but we wont see it for 650 or so years… am i the only person that finds it a bit disturbing that so many people on earth are hopeful of seeing her explode soon without a care for any unknown civilizations close to her that might be harshly affected? lol

  21. Why do these idiots keep saying they wish beteljuice would go super nova tonight if it did you moron we would not see it for another 640 years

  22. I don't know which one to look forward to, I meet the love of my life or witness the Betelgeuse explode. Nah, I choose Betelgeuse! So don't let me down you little ballie now!

  23. Another great video! I saw the pictures of Betelgeuse earlier in the week with the article title "Betelgeuse has changed shape!" then the article never mentioned it again… so thank you for clearing that up! Interesting stuff and a great job as always. Thank you for putting out such great material!

  24. Orion doesn't have enough muscle to pull the drawstring on the bow back far enough to loose an arrow. So you know, there's that.

  25. It's all the many alien craft in front of it taking aliens on a vacation to watch the star blow…lol
    I'm totally joking. I work for General Dynamics on rocket propulsion..(engines) and I'm really joking.. it's NOT aliens.

  26. It is possible that we are seeing the surface results of the nuclear reactions in the star's core "flashing over" to a heavier element like Oxygen?

    It would seem reasonable that the quick burst of energy from that process might disrupt the outer layers of the star and end up ejecting a bunch of matter/dust into the space around it which is now obscuring the light from the star until it clears out or falls back in…

  27. Just hope someone has a camera running on the star. Would hate to miss the supernova because someone was worried about storage space.

  28. Everyone so worried about something so far away it impacts Earth in no way, if you really believe it exists, triggered….. annnnnnnd go

  29. hummmm I have never seen your site before.. I liked this episode.. I will have to check out a few more.. thanks for the very good information..

  30. I pictured myself and baby Jesus at a Lynyrd Skynrd concert and I’m hammered drunk in the front row when Betelgeuse super novas. It will be awesome!

  31. Photo just reassures me Bug juice is only doing what it's supposed to.
    This from a planet of inhabitants who only 45 years ago finally got to see what opposite side of close orbiting moon 239 thousand miles away looks like.

    If only we could take a completely different angle shot from New horizons probe. Like we already do now with our Sun and it's widely spaced Stereo 1 & 2 instruments.

  32. The change in Betelgeuse's shape is not remarkable. The convective cells of a red supergiant are orders of magnitude larger relative to the star than is the case with main sequence stars, and the characteristic time scale of surface fluctuations is a few weeks. You'd get a different asymmetry and so a different looking image pretty much every couple of weeks.

  33. Is it gonna upset that ghost from the movie? If observations are over six hundred years old could it be gone already?

  34. If i went out to my patio to observe, wouldn’t i’d be seeing it as it was many years ago? Maybe it already went super nova snd we still have not seen the light because its still traveling.

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