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The red hyper-giant star in Orion has shrunk by 15% in the last 15 years signifying an 'imminent' supernova explosion...if it hasn't exploded already. At approximately 600 light years distance, Betelgeuse going supernova could well affect life here on Earth...especially since one of the star's poles faces directly towards our Solar System. When it explodes, it could well send a massive burst of radiation in our direction. If we're far enough away is up for debate, but astronomers tend to say we're at a safe distance from ground zero.

Either way...when it does blow (with 'luck', in our lifetime, which is begining to seem likely due to the rapid shrinkage) the explosion will dominate the night and daytime sky.

For those unaware how large this star is, refer to this star comparison diagram for a bit of a surprise. Betelgeuse is one of the few stars we can resolve into as disc from Earth it is so large and 'close'...for a star.

Story here...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(constellation)

Edited by DogOnPorch
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Awesome. I'm a bit of a backyard Galileo myself.

;)

It is quite awesome, indeed. When it happens it'll be impossible NOT to notice it. Here's one going off in galaxy NGC 4526, 55,000,000 light years away! Imagine it happening "next door" so-to-speak.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova

Sirius is another candidate for supernova...but a different sort...and NOT in our lifetime (or any eon soon). Sirius has a white dwarf companion that could draw off matter from Sirius in the far future and then go supernova when a critical mass is reached (Type 1a Supernova).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_Ia_supernova

Of course, the various 'planetary nebula' we see in the sky such as the Crab Nebula are old supernova remnants.

Very interesting stuff, I think. Stars and galaxies facinate me.

Edited by DogOnPorch
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As a sideline if anyone is interested, there's a really good free deep space planetarium/astronomy program known as Celestia...looks like this in action...Pic 1; Pic 2. (Star nursery RCW 79). It naturally includes Betelgeuse ;) . Much like the project I work on, Orbiter Space Flight Simulator, it has tons of 3rd party addons (see link for motherload below). I'd recommend the 2,000,000 extra stars catalogue plus some of the 3D nebula, blackholes and such. The third link is a 'how to' guide by one of the designers of Celestia.

http://www.shatters.net/celestia/

http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/

http://www.lepp.cornell.edu/~seb/celestia/

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The red hyper-giant star in Orion has shrunk by 15% in the last 15 years signifying an 'imminent' supernova explosion...if it hasn't exploded already. At approximately 600 light years distance, Betelgeuse going supernova could well affect life here on Earth...especially since one of the star's poles faces directly towards our Solar System. When it explodes, it could well send a massive burst of radiation in our direction. If we're far enough away is up for debate, but astronomers tend to say we're at a safe distance from ground zero.

Either way...when it does blow (with 'luck', in our lifetime, which is begining to seem likely due to the rapid shrinkage) the explosion will dominate the night and daytime sky.

For those unaware how large this star is, refer to this star comparison diagram for a bit of a surprise. Betelgeuse is one of the few stars we can resolve into as disc from Earth it is so large and 'close'...for a star.

Story here...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(constellation)

The astronomers at the space science center here in Edmonton said definitely that when Betelgeuuse goes supernove were definitely toast.

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The astronomers at the space science center here in Edmonton said definitely that when Betelgeuse goes supernova we're definitely toast.

That's what many say...yup........lol. Where's my suitcase???

:lol:

Others say intervening gas and dust will disapate the radiation...we'll see, I suppose.

:unsure:

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we'll see, I suppose.

Isn't that what it always boils down to. We've learn't so much about these things but we still remain so ignorant. At the end of the day only time will prove us right or wrong, time is the ultimate arbiter in these matters, but as none of us will ever see the end result it becomes a topic of speculation, although we may be vindicated eventually in our beliefs. (backed by solid scientific methodology of course.)

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Isn't that what it always boils down to. We've learn't so much about these things but we still remain so ignorant. At the end of the day only time will prove us right or wrong, time is the ultimate arbiter in these matters, but as none of us will ever see the end result it becomes a topic of speculation, although we may be vindicated eventually in our beliefs. (backed by solid scientific methodology of course.)

Actually, the 15% shrinkage (with the rate speeding-up) in such a short period of time suggests the star is in a period of final gravitational collapse. Betelgeuse has been a known variable star for centuries, but it used to bounce back to its original size. So there is a fair chance we could see the event in our lifetime. At about 20 solar masses, Betelgeuse is a candidate for a neutron star or even a black hole post event.

There's a slight chance that Betelgeuse is only transitioning from one nuclear reaction to another in terms of which elements it is using as a fuel. However, it is only very slight as 15 years is a long period of contraction when fusion of elements beyond hydrogen-helium react hotter and faster. In other words...something should have taken over by now. This would indicate that the star has possibly started fusing a nickle-iron core which can sustain no further nuclear reactions.

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Well, Betelgeuse going supernova would be one spectacular event. However, "imminent" on an astronomical timescale pretty much means millions of years rather than billions. The probability of it happening in our lifetimes is very small. That being said, Betelgeuse is 600+ light years away; with a distance like that, it will not cause any appreciable damage. It would be just an extra light in the sky: brighter than the moon, but dimmer than the sun.

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Well, Betelgeuse going supernova would be one spectacular event. However, "imminent" on an astronomical timescale pretty much means millions of years rather than billions. The probability of it happening in our lifetimes is very small. That being said, Betelgeuse is 600+ light years away; with a distance like that, it will not cause any appreciable damage. It would be just an extra light in the sky: brighter than the moon, but dimmer than the sun.

See my previous post re: 15% shrinkage since 1993. Stars, as they finish using-up all their hydrogen fuel, move on to fuse other elements to create energy needed to prevent gravitational collapse. Eventually, the star gets to be like an onion with layers of elements stacked on top of each other towards the core. This is happening 'now' (600 years ago). Thus my assessment of 'fair' re: our chances of seeing it in our lifetime.

As well, there could be some danger as Betelgeuse's polar axis faces directly towards our Solar System. A huge burst of cosmic rays are expected from each pole upon explosion. These rays move at light speed for the most part...arriving when we see the explosion. If Betelgeuse turns into a pulsar neutron star, a lighthouse beam of radiation my well zap us continuously for the rest of time as the star spins. Depends where its magnetic poles are...we assume more or less alligned with the physical poles like our star and planet.

Cheery thoughts...but as you mention...600 light years is a long ways away. Down the block so to speak in terms of our stellar neighborhood. But keep in mind this picture from 55 million ly away.

:P

Edited by DogOnPorch
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Thanks for the primer, however, you needn't explain the basics to me, I happen to be pretty well versed in the field :) As far as I know, the best estimate of Betelgeuse' axis orientation is that it faces 20 degrees away from Earth:

http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1538-3881/11...501/980184.html

Thus any polar emission of gamma rays (or anything else) would miss the Earth (and our entire solar system) by a very wide margin (~200 light years). With the poles not aligned to the Earth, we would be hit only by the omni-directional burst or radiation, which falls off as 1/r^2, meaning that at our distance it would be quite harmless.

Also, it is quite unlikely that the remaining core remnant would be a neutron star, as Betelgeuse has a mass of approximately 20 solar masses, which would leave a remnant massive enough to form a black hole in the majority of cases. While black holes are very interesting, it would not send out beams of radiation like a pulsar.

When Betelgeuse does go supernova, it will be an amazing opportunity to study everything from gravity waves, to neutrino oscillations, to (obviously) stellar evolution.

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Thanks for the primer, however, you needn't explain the basics to me, I happen to be pretty well versed in the field :) As far as I know, the best estimate of Betelgeuse' axis orientation is that it faces 20 degrees away from Earth:

http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1538-3881/11...501/980184.html

Thus any polar emission of gamma rays (or anything else) would miss the Earth (and our entire solar system) by a very wide margin (~200 light years). With the poles not aligned to the Earth, we would be hit only by the omni-directional burst or radiation, which falls off as 1/r^2, meaning that at our distance it would be quite harmless.

Also, it is quite unlikely that the remaining core remnant would be a neutron star, as Betelgeuse has a mass of approximately 20 solar masses, which would leave a remnant massive enough to form a black hole in the majority of cases. While black holes are very interesting, it would not send out beams of radiation like a pulsar.

When Betelgeuse does go supernova, it will be an amazing opportunity to study everything from gravity waves, to neutrino oscillations, to (obviously) stellar evolution.

Excellent. Nice to have another astronomy buff on the forum. Sorry for the primer. You should be priming me obviously.

:lol:

Are you interested in space flight, as well?

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How'd you guess? :) Space flight is my specialty, I'm doing grad school in aerospace engineering right now, in the field of advanced space propulsion systems. It's been a lifelong interest of mine.

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How'd you guess? :) Space flight is my specialty, I'm doing grad school in aerospace engineering right now, in the field of advanced space propulsion systems. It's been a lifelong interest of mine.

Ah well! Nice to meet you. Space flight is a passion of mine as well. Ion drives and such? Space sails?

Have you tried Orbiter? I'm involved in that project.

http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/orbit.html

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Always nice to meet someone else that's interested in space :) Yeah electric propulsion and also fusion propulsion concepts. So many promising ideas out there.

I actually haven't tried orbiter, that looks pretty cool; I'll definitely check it out.

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Always nice to meet someone else that's interested in space :) Yeah electric propulsion and also fusion propulsion concepts. So many promising ideas out there.

I actually haven't tried orbiter, that looks pretty cool; I'll definitely check it out.

You'll find it quite realistic indeed. Fully 3D...so a good vid card helps. Orbital elements are via HORIZONS or better if available. The forum over there is full of fellows like us. If you do try it, make sure to install the sound module which is hosted at this website. Note the extra sound packs. He also has several other goodies...the Delta Glider Mk IV is a keeper.

http://orbiter.dansteph.com/

Orbiter includes the entire Solar System if you install some of the extras. Apollo is one of the favorite 3rd party addons. There are two seperate projects if you can believe it...on one, you get a fully functional CM/LM panels...no punches pulled.

http://www.acsoft.ch/AMSO/amso.html

http://sourceforge.net/projects/nassp/

Most 3rd party addons are @ these spots...

http://www.orbithangar.com/

http://orbiter.mustard-fr.com/

http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/

Sometimes, 3rd party addons use the two modules located here. It's a good idea to install them if you plan to add extra rockets, etc.

http://users.swing.be/vinka/

We're working on a new version that should be out sooner rather than later.

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Nice, I'll take a look when I can. I remember it was fun playing around with a relativistic flight simulator someone installed back at the university. It totally ignored the orbital mechanics, but had the planets and stars floating there in space and you could see how things changed when moving close to the speed of light. Space dilation, time dilation, red shift, etc. Really gave me a feel for it.

What aspect of the Orbiter project do you work on? Programming? 3D models?

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