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New analysis finds Betelgeuse is dimming and has entered helium-burning phase

New analysis finds Betelgeuse is dimming and has entered helium-burning phase

Scientists have kept their eyes glued to the star Betelgeuse since last year, after reports show the red supergiant was dimming – but a new study find

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Scientists have kept their eyes glued to the star Betelgeuse since last year, after reports show the red supergiant was dimming – but a new study finds it still has more than 100,000 years until the event.

An International team of scientists suggest the star is in the early core helium-burning phase, when a star burns helium in to carbon, which is one of the final steps before supernova.

Researchers involved with the analysis, also found that smaller brightness variations of Betelgeuse have been powered by stellar pulsations, along with the star’s location being closer to Earth than previously thought.

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An International team of scientists suggest the star is in the early core helium-burning phase, when a star burns helium in to carbon, which is one of the final steps before supernova

An International team of scientists suggest the star is in the early core helium-burning phase, when a star burns helium in to carbon, which is one of the final steps before supernova

An International team of scientists suggest the star is in the early core helium-burning phase, when a star burns helium in to carbon, which is one of the final steps before supernova

The team is led by Dr. Meridith Joyce from the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the brightness variation of Betelgeuse.

This allowed researchers to uncover the star was currently burning helium in its core.

This happens when the core of a star reaches about 100 million degrees, which causes three helium nuclei to collide and fuse to form a carbon nucleus.

The team is led by Dr. Meridith Joyce from the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the brightness variation of Betelgeuse

The team is led by Dr. Meridith Joyce from the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the brightness variation of Betelgeuse

The team is led by Dr. Meridith Joyce from the Australian National University (ANU), who used evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the brightness variation of Betelgeuse

Sometime after this event, the core collapses, causing an explosion that results in a nebula – regions of dust and gas in interstellar space.

Because of this thorough investigation, the team also found that stellar pulsations driven by the so-called kappa-mechanism is causing the star to continuously brighten or fade with two periods of 185 (+/-13.5) days and approximately 400 days. 

But the large dip in brightness in early 2020 is unprecedented, and is likely due to a dust cloud in front of Betelgeuse, as seen in the image.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found the dimming was likely due to a traumatic outburst that ejected hot material into space – covering Earth’s view of Betelgeuse. 

Data had shown a dust cloud formed when the superhot plasma ejected from the star, which cooled and formed a dust cloud that blocked light from Betelgeuse’s surface. 

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the 2020 dimming was likely due to a traumatic outburst that ejected hot material into space - covering Earth's view of Betelgeuse

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the 2020 dimming was likely due to a traumatic outburst that ejected hot material into space - covering Earth's view of Betelgeuse

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found the 2020 dimming was likely due to a traumatic outburst that ejected hot material into space – covering Earth’s view of Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse’s size has been a mystery to the scientific community, but the latest study determined it has a radios 750 times of the sun.

This information also allowed researchers to determine the star is only 530 light years from Earth, instead of 700 light years as previously believed.

Their results imply that Betelgeuse is not at all close to exploding, and that it is too far from Earth for the eventual explosion to have significant impact here, even though it is still a really big deal when a supernova goes off.  

This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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