Betelgeuse, the closest red supergiant star, develops a very large star spot as it cools at the end of its life, according to a new study.
A massive star spot a hundred times larger than the Sun could explain its recent strange behavior.
Betelgeuse – pronounced “betelgerz” or “beetlejuice” and also known as Alpha Orionis—Brightness faded quickly from late 2019 to May 2020, prompting many to suggest that it could be a sign that the star was about to become a supernova.
In February 2020, it was only half as bright as normal.
Betelgeuse, about 650 light years away, will explode like Type IIP Supernova sometimes over the next 100,000 years, leaving behind a neutron star.
Since then, some theories have hypothesized that the cause of Betelgeuse’s “deep minimum” for 2019-2020 could be:
This new study published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters essentially supports the second theory by suggesting that Betelgeuse had a gigantic star spot 10% cooler than the rest of the star’s surface.
Using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii, an international team of astronomers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan, the United States, and Chile detected light from the dust grains around of Betelgeuse.
Their results suggest that the stars are about 10% cooler than the rest of the surface of the star formed on two thirds of Betelgeuse. The star spot is a hundred times larger than the Sun.
“Sudden discoloration of Betelgeuse does not mean that it turns into a supernova,” said lead author Professor University of Manchester professor Albert Zijlstra. “It’s a super giant star that develops a very large star spot.”
Betelgeuse is 900 times larger than the Sun. If it were in our solar system instead of the Sun, Jupiter would be in close orbit.
I wish you a clear sky and big eyes.