Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hubble sees the red supergiant star Betelgeuse slowly recovering after blowing off its top: Analyzing data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and several other observatories, astronomers have concluded that the bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse formed in 2019 really blew his top

The star Betelgeuse Winter appears as a bright, ruby-red, twinkling light spot in the upper right shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter. But when viewed closely, astronomers know it to be a soaring monster, with a 400-day-long heartbeat of regular beats. This aging star is classified as a supergiant because it has grown to an astonishing diameter of about 1 billion miles. If it is placed in the center of our solar system, it will reach the orbit of Jupiter. The ultimate fate of the star is to explode as a supernova. When this finally happens, it will be visible from Earth for some time in the daytime sky. But there’s a lot of fireworks going on now before the final explosion.

Astronomers using Hubble and other telescopes have concluded that the star blew off a massive piece of its visible surface in 2019.

This has never been seen before on any star. Our petulant Sun regularly undergoes massive ejection of its outer atmosphere, the corona. But those events are orders of magnitude weaker than those observed on Betelgeuse. The first clues came when the star mysteriously darkened in late 2019. As it cooled, a huge cloud of hazy dust formed from the surface that came out. Astronomers have now worked out a scenario for the upheaval. And Tara is still slowly recovering; Photosphere is rebuilding itself. And the interior is buzzing like a bell that has been struck by a hammer, disrupting the star’s normal cycle. That doesn’t mean the monster star will explode any time soon, but the conundrums of late life may continue to amaze astronomers.

Analyzing data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and several other observatories, astronomers have concluded that the bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse literally blew off its top in 2019, losing a great deal of its visible surface and a massive surface. Produced mass ejection (SME). This has never been seen before in the behavior of a normal star.

Our Sun regularly ejects parts of its weak outer atmosphere, the corona, in a phenomenon known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). But the Betelgeuse SME exploded with a mass 400 billion times more than a normal CME!

The demon Tara is still slowly recovering from this devastating upheaval. “Betelgeuse is doing some very unusual things right now, the interior is bouncing off,” said Andrea Dupree of the Center for Astrophysics. Harvard and the Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

These new observations provide clues as to how red stars lose mass late in their lives as their nuclear fusion furnaces burn out before exploding as a supernova. The amount of mass damage significantly affects their fate. However, Betelgeuse’s surprisingly petty behavior isn’t evidence that the star is going to fly away any time soon. So the occurrence of mass damage does not necessarily indicate an impending eruption.

Dupree is now pulling together all the puzzle pieces of the star’s petulant behavior before, after and during the explosion in a coherent story of a never-before-seen Titanic spasm in an aging star.

This includes new spectroscopic and imaging data from the STELLA Robotic Observatory, Fred L. Whipple Observatory’s Tillinghast Reflector Echelle Spectrograph (TRES), NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory spacecraft (STEREO-A), NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the American Association of Variable Space Telescope. Star Observer (AAVSO) Dupree stressed that the Hubble data was key to helping solve the mystery.

“We’ve never seen a massive mass ejection of a star’s surface before. We have something going on that we don’t fully understand. This is a completely new phenomenon that we can observe directly with Hubble.” And can resolve surface details. We’re seeing stellar evolution in real time.”

The Titanic outbreak in 2019 was likely caused by a convective plume that was bubbling deep inside the star, more than a million miles away. This produced shocks and pulsations that destroyed part of the photosphere, leaving the star with a large cold surface area beneath a cloud of dust that was produced by a cooling piece of the photosphere. Betelgeuse is now struggling to recover from the injury.

Weighing nearly several times that of our Moon, the fragmented piece of photosphere spread out into space and cooled to form a dust cloud that blocked light from the star as seen by Earth observers. The dimming, which began in late 2019 and lasted a few months, was readily noticeable even by backyard observers watching the star change brightness. One of the brightest stars in the sky, Betelgeuse is easily found in the right shoulder of the constellation Orion.

Even more spectacular, the supergiant’s 400-day beating rate is now gone, probably at least temporarily. For nearly 200 years, astronomers have clearly measured this rhythm as Betelgeuse’s brightness variations and changes in surface motions. Its interference proves the speed of the strike.

Dupree suggests that the inner convection cells of the star, which drive the regular beat, may be moving around like an unbalanced washing machine tub. TRES and Hubble spectra imply that the outer layers may be back to normal, but the surface is still bouncing around like a gelatin dessert plate as the photosphere rebuilds itself.

Although our Sun has a coronal mass ejection that blows away tiny fragments of the outer atmosphere, astronomers have never seen a star’s visible surface destroyed in space in such a large amount. Therefore, surface mass ejection and coronal mass ejection may be separate phenomena.

Betelgeuse is now so massive that if it replaced the Sun at the center of our solar system, its outer surface would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Dupree used Hubble in 1996 to resolve hot spots on the surface of the star. This was the first direct image of a star other than the Sun.

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope may be able to detect matter ejected in infrared light as it moves away from the star.

Nation World News Desk
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