Why has the Petalgeus star lost its brightness so drastically? Researchers now know what triggered the phenomenon, which can be seen with the naked eye.
Frankfurt – Between November 2019 and March 2020, when Orion suddenly lost its brightness in the galaxy, the excitement among professional and amateur astronomers was good: Inside: What caused the drop in brightness visible to the naked eye? Did you experience the first signs of a supernova in which a day of red supergiant beetles will inevitably end? Researchers around the world have studied the phenomenon of night sky and come up with various solutions.
Now a group around Miguel Montreux (including the University of Paris and KU Louvain) has spoken out and wants to solve the mystery of Betelgeuse ‘obscurity. The researchers used the European Southern Laboratory’s (ESO) Largest Telescope (VLT) to take pictures of the dark and then Petalgeus. The previously unreleased red supergiant images from January and April 2020 helped researchers solve the puzzle because they showed the darkest star (January 2020) and the star in its original brightness (April 2020).
Stern Petalgeus: What is the cause of the mysterious darkness?
“We saw for the first time how the appearance of a star changed in real time over the course of a week,” Montreux said in an ESO message. Researchers’ observation: The surface of the petals is constantly changing as gas bubbles move, contract, and grow into stars. The outer layers of red supergiants can release substances into the environment that turn to dust.
|Distance to Earth||About 642 light years|
|Alternative names||Petalgeus, Alpha Orionis|
|Brightness||The tenth brightest star in the earthly night sky|
The research team conducted the study Published in Nature magazine. In it, the researchers describe their findings: so the mysterious fall of brightness was caused by a dusty veil that overshadowed the star. Apparently, in the pre-eclipse period, the star emitted a huge gas bubble that flew away from Petalgeus. After a while, the surface cooled and the drop in temperature ensured that the gas was compressed into dust – and partially obscured the star. Seen from Earth, Petalgeus clearly lost its brightness, and the southern hemisphere of the star was ten times darker than usual at the eclipse point, according to the study.
Red Supergiant Petalgeuse: “We watched Stardust emerge”
“We directly observed what is called a startup,” Montreux explains. Her co-author Emily Cannon (KU Louven) elaborates on this discovery: “Dust emitted by cold, mature stars, like the emissions we now observe, may later become building blocks of terrestrial planets and life.” The study, however, rejects the link with the upcoming supernova.
Bleach in Orion galaxy: Dust has partially obscured and obscured the star
In 2020, researchers using the “Hubble” space telescope observed Petalgeuse before the brightness subsided. According to their own reports, the research team recognized signs of a “dense, hot substance” moving in the atmosphere of Petalgeus just months before the star eclipse. Andrea Dubri of the Astronomical Center in Cambridge at the time explains, “Through Hubble, we left the visible surface of the giant star and moved through the atmosphere before dust was formed.”
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Petalgeus is a red supergiant – when a star dies it collapses into a spectacular supernova, leaving a black hole or neutron star. The Red Supergiants are intense: they are the largest stars in space – about 900 times the radius of the Petal Zeus Sun. If Petalgeus were placed in the center of our solar system instead of the Sun, the four inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) would be swallowed up and almost reached Jupiter. (Thanja Banner)
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