The Betelgeuse star, that in recent weeks has captured the interest in being one of the brightest even though it is 700 light years away, it has been studied, as astronomers want to determine why this supergiant star lost its shine last year.
Faced with the mystery of what could have happened, lThe star was monitored with the “Very Large Telescope” (VLT), which allowed them to make a comparison of their status at the beginning of last year with December 2019 to determine that the red giant was at 36% of its usual brightness.
These results have been published recently and show that the surface has experienced a noticeable darkening.
The research, by Miguel Montargès, astronomer at the Observatory of the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) explains that There are two causes to explain what is probably happening with Betelgeuse.
“The two scenarios we are working on – Montargès explained in a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) – are a cooling of the surface due to exceptional stellar activity, or a ejection of dust in our direction,” he explained .
Betelgeuse is a star at the end of her life: a red supergiant. The predictions are that it becomes a supernova and explodes until it ends its life.
“In astronomy we hear the phrase ‘we are stardust’ a lot, but where exactly does that dust come from?”, said Emily Cannon, a PhD student at the Catholic University of Leuven who works with the images of red supergiants.
He explained that “during their lives, red supergiants like Betelgeuse create and expel large amounts of material even before they explode as supernovae. Modern technology has allowed us to study these objects, hundreds of light years away, with unprecedented details that they give us the opportunity to unravel the mystery of what triggers their loss of mass. “
Faced with the question of when Betelgeuse will explode, astronomer Sylvia Ekström said to the spanish newspaper ABC: “We really don’t know what stage it is. It is possible that he is now ‘burning’ helium by joining these atoms through nuclear fusion reactions – but he could be burning other things, such as carbon, neon or even oxygen. ”
And the predictions are very open: it can explode today or within the next 100,000 years.