According to a new study by an international group of scientists, it may take another 100,000 years before the giant red star Betelgeuse dies in a fiery explosion. The study, led by Dr. Meredith Joyce of the Australian National University (ANU), not only gives Betelgeuse new life, but also shows that it is smaller and closer to Earth than previously thought.
Dr. Joyce says that the supergiant, part of the constellation Orion, has long fascinated scientists. But recently, it has been acting strangely. “Usually it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky, but since the end of 2019 we’ve seen two drops in the brightness of Betelgeuse,” Dr. Joyce explains.
It was suggested that the star is about to explode. But the new study offers another explanation. The scientists believe that the first blackout was due to a dust cloud, and the second was due to the star’s pulsations.
Using hydrodynamic and seismic simulations, the scientists were able to get a clearer idea of the phase of Betelgeuse’s life. It turned out that the cause of Betelgeuse pulsation were pressure waves. Scientists claim that once helium burns in the core of the star, it means that it is far away from explosion. Until then, at least 100 thousand years will pass.
The researchers also note that the actual physical size of Betelgeuse was a mystery. For some time, it was believed that it could be larger than the orbit of Jupiter. The results of a new study say that the size is not more than two-thirds of this value.
Based on these findings, the scientists were able to determine the distance of Betelgeuse to Earth. Calculations showed that this is only 530 light years away, that is 25% closer than previously assumed.