Orion star Betelgeuse ‘a good candidate’ for visible supernova explosion

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Somebody warn Michael Keaton.

Betelgeuse — a bright, red supergiant star, pronounced “Beetlejuice,” that’s around 640 light years from our planet — is now “a good candidate for the next galactic supernova,” according to new research.

The explosion would be so bright that Earthlings would be able to see the cosmic fireworks display even in broad daylight, reported Space.com.

The star, with prominent placement as the left-side shoulder point of the constellation Orion, has shown signs of an impending supernova, as it has behaved erratically since 2019.

At that time, it had entered a phase of “unprecedented dimming” that resulted in the expulsion of gas several times more massive than our moon.

Usually, Betelgeuse — which is 700 times larger than our sun — ranks as one of the top brightest stars in the night sky, according to NASA.

In 2019, Betelgeuse was observed to be dimming at a shocking rate.
In 2019, Betelgeuse was observed to be dimming at a shocking rate.
NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI)

But last May, it reversed the dimming and was shining at 142% of its usual brightness, according to Betelgeuse Status, a Twitter account that keeps tabs on awe-inspiring space infernos.

Betelgeuse is rapidly shifting between bright and dim every 200 days or so, as opposed to its usual rate of around 400, astrophysicist Andrea Dupree told The Guardian.

“One of the coolest things about Betelgeuse is that we’re watching the final stages of big star evolution play out almost in real-time for us, which we’ve never really been able to study in this much depth before,” added fellow astrophysicist Dr. Sara Webb, who researches at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

While the supernova would be visible from Earth, it would not actually be felt here: A star its size would need to be within 160 light years for that, according to the science site EarthSky.

Betelgeuse could became the next supernova we are able to see.
Betelgeuse could become the next supernova we are able to see.
AFP via Getty Images

In the most recent study, researchers reported that Betelgeuse is currently burning carbon from its core — a telltale sign of the beginning of the end.

The team from Japan’s Tohoku University and the University of Geneva in Switzerland even gave the beyond-once-in-a-lifetime event a timeline of occurrence.

The scientists predict that “a core-collapse leading to a supernova explosion is expected in a few tens years.”

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