Betelgeuse - The 'Killer' Star That Could Become Supernova

Published September 9, 2017 1,877,171 Views $17.41 earned

Rumble / SpaceAt first glance, Betelgeuse may look like a random orange blob but in fact it is an image that reveals one of the biggest stars ever seen. Betelgeuse, also known as a ‘killer star’, is one of the largest stars known to astronomers with a radius about 1,400 times larger than that of the Sun. The Betelgeuse star is not only famous for its size and brightness but because it is only about 600 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter)- a bright winter constellation in the Northern Hemisphere.

Betelgeuse is so vast — its size would extend beyond Jupiter's orbit if it were placed in the sun's position in the solar system and is now near the end of its lifetime. It is just about eight million years old, but is already on the verge of becoming a supernova.

This red supergiant burns brightly, causing it to have only a short life expectancy. It is shedding gas and dust at tremendous rates. When that happens, the resulting explosion will be visible from Earth, even in broad daylight. When astronomers say Betelgeuse is expected to explode soon, they mean shortly in astronomical terms: within a million years.

But predicting exactly when it will turn into a supernova is difficult, however, as it depends on precise calculations of its mass as well as an understanding of what is going on inside the star.

So, one is sure, the explosion won’t happen in our lifetime. But in fact no one really knows. It could be tomorrow or a million years in the future.