What The Betelgeuse Explosion Would Look Like From Earth

Published September 18, 2017 1,465,021 Views $52.61 earned

Rumble / SpaceOrion, the massive star Betelgeuse is dying. It reached the end of its life and currently in the terminal throes of shedding vast bubbles of gas into space.

Betelgeuse lies some 430 light-years from Earth. Note that determining distances, especially to red supergiant stars, is an unnerving problem in Astronomy. Estimates vary and are often revised, with some as high as 650 light-years, yet it’s already one of the brightest stars in Earth’s sky. The reason is that Betelgeuse is a supergiant star.

However, such brilliance comes at a price. Betelgeuse is one of the most famous stars in the sky because it’s due to explode someday. Its enormous energy requires that the fuel be expended quickly, and in fact Betelgeuse is now near the end of its lifetime. In astronomical terms, someday soon it will run out of fuel, collapse under its own weight, and then rebound in a spectacular supernova explosion. When this happens, Betelgeuse will brighten enormously for a few weeks or months, perhaps as bright as the full moon and visible in broad daylight.

When will it happen? Probably not in our lifetimes. But, in fact, no one really knows. It could be tomorrow or a million years in the future.