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 Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?

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AP0LLO



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PostSubject: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:15 am

There are many reports which state this red giant may go Supernova in 2012 or even tomorrow or confusing still, another few thousand years later. So how do our scientists calculate and arrive at this confusing theory?

The movie 2012 revolved around probably Betelguese going supernova and creating another moon but in theory, being 600 light years away, the impact will only be 0.00006% so we Earthlings have nothing to fear, except perhaps be able to view Betelguese as a bright star even during the day.

I am sure most if not all you folks would have read something about this. Kindly share your thoughts on the likely outcome.

Would it benefit us amateur astronomers?
Would this once in a lifetime event nearest to Earth spectacle ever happen during OUR lifetime?.

Personally I hope it does so that we can have one more likely galaxy to view, what with light pollution and clouds.
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TomK

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:16 am


Yeah, I read that too and wiki states million years. But there are so many other reports on various sites which are a bit conflicting or misleading.
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astrolover

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:17 am

Won't kill us, won't incinerate us, sure will dazzle us.
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johnastro



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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:17 am

Everyone makes a fuss about Betelguese, but Eta Carinae is way more unstable and is thought to be ready to blow a lot sooner.
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:18 am

True but in comparison, Eta Carinae is some 6000 light years away compared to 600 light years. Again all this is hypothetical as regards the due date.
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scopeman

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:20 am

Unless Betelgeuse explodes as a gamma ray burst and fires one of the jets right at us, we have little to nothing to fear because otherwise we'd have to be within a few dozen light years for serious if not fatal damage to occur to our planet. The atmosphere will for the most part block the flood of X-rays and gamma rays the blast will release, while Earth's magnetic shield will ward off the energetic charged particles that supernovae eject. We will however get more radiation at ground level from space than normal, supernovae blast bombardments of the Earth leave traces of radioactivity that scientists can detect. That could induce mutations that sometimes confer a survival advantage, aiding evolution of life here on Earth. I can't say I would want to be an astronaut out there in deep space when Betelguese explodes, because lots of radiation and charged particles will bombard both the occupants and wreck the electronics of a manned spacecraft, which could injure or kill them. Even now there's belts of radiation around the Earth that would kill a man if he lingers too long in the Van Allen belts. Betelgeuese has 15 solar masses and still retains it's outer envelope of hydrogen, which means it will explode as an ordinary Type 11 core-collapse supernova that will form a neutron star as well as a supernova remnant resembling the Crab Nebula. The star is dredging up and expelling carbon, nitrogen and other heavier elements into space, which means it may only have a few centuries or millenia left before the core is converted to iron, which soaks up energy like a sponge when it's either fused or fissioned. When Beteleguese goes supernova, it will be brighter than the full moon at it's height, and will be umistakably visible even in daytime. For months, even years it will dominate the winter skies, and radio, neutrino, x-ray and gamma ray telescopes here would sing from the intense signals they would get from the event. Betelguese's coming demise would provide astronomers with more information about supernovae, the origin of the elements and the evolution of both the Universe and life than all other supernovae observed so far. It would also give scientists the chance to learn a lot about neutron stars. So if Betelgeuse goes off next year, it should not be something to fear, but regarded as an opportunity for everyone to see that we were all once ashes from a star or stars that's been long gone.
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roger



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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:20 am

Even if the star hasn't already exploded and still can, we probably wont know it for... Ohh look, 600 years.
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:21 am

Unless it went supernova around 600 years ago Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:22 am

According to current astrophysical theories, Betelgeuse will almost certain go supernova sometime in the next million years. Mind you, there's a lot we don't know about supernovae, so that could be wrong. Prior to 1987, everybody knew for sure that the only kind of star that can go supernova is a red giant. Sadly, in that year, the first supernova with a well-studied predecessor star was observed -- and the predecessor was a blue giant, not a red giant. So much for theory!

Anyway, given the current state of knowledge, "some time in the next million years" could include anything from tomorrow to 573,641 years from next Wednesday -- they're both equally likely. But the chances of its exploding in the next year -- or decade -- are mighty small.

By the way, when I say "tomorrow" I really mean that we would observe it tomorrow. Meaning that the explosion itself already happened 600 years ago like Beth said. There's no way to rule out that possibility.

If Betelgeuse were to explode, it would be an incredible naked-eye spectacle, but it would create enough light pollution to put a real damper on deep-sky observing of the winter sky. It would also, obviously, be a once-in-many-lifetimes chance for professionals to study a supernova close-up.
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AP0LLO



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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:23 am

Wow combine the light pollution of a supernova that close with a full moon in winter and forget about seeing anything else! It would be good for science but bad for us amateurs. It would be amazing to see Orion disfigured forever afterward and to be able to remember when Orion's shoulder was a .5 magnitude red dot.
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AP0LLO



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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:23 am

Would Betelgeuse be the first star with a proper name to go supernova? If that is the case, will the remnant be called Betelgeuse also? How about the leftover core?
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:24 am

I don't think this is a "confusing theory". Like all science, there are no absolutes only a range of possibilities. We can calculate some probabilities to a very high degree of accuracy - the sun will *probably* rise tomorrow, with an extremely tiny possibility that it may not because something disasterous will happen to it before then.

Other things have a MUCH larger margin of error - such as our understanding of when a star will go supernova. The best science we have tells us that Betelguese will go supernova "soon", meaning anytime from right now to a few thousand years from now. There's no confusion about the date, there's just a limited ability on our part to pin it down. Couple that with news writers looking for a good headline and now you've got "confusion" Very Happy Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:27 am

This Betelguese thing looks like just another avenue to exploit by those who have misinterpreted the Mayan Calendar as predicting the End of the World in 2012.

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:27 am

AstroJunkie wrote:
This Betelguese thing looks like just another avenue to exploit by those who have misinterpreted the Mayan Calendar as predicting the End of the World in 2012.

According to my Hooter's Calendar the end of the world is on Dec. 31 2011.
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:28 am

scopeman wrote:
AstroJunkie wrote:
This Betelguese thing looks like just another avenue to exploit by those who have misinterpreted the Mayan Calendar as predicting the End of the World in 2012.

According to my Hooter's Calendar the end of the world is on Dec. 31 2011.


Razz Laughing Razz Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:29 am

Bright as a full moon? I sure hope that doesn't happen in my lifetime. That will ruin DSO observing for about half the year.
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:30 am

It would be cool to see Betelguese go supernova. It would be a very bright object in the sky, even brighter than Supernova 1006 near Beta Lupi. It had an magnitude of -8. I don't think it would happen in our life time. On second thought, it could ruin starwatching for a while. Not cool Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:31 am

astrowolf67 wrote:
It would be cool to see Betelguese go supernova. It would be a very bright object in the sky, even brighter than Supernova 1006 near Beta Lupi. It had an magnitude of -8. I don't think it would happen in our life time. On second thought, it could ruin starwatching for a while. Not cool Cool

After a period of months or years, after the initial brightness faded, a slowly expanding and very bright Planetary nebula would be visible for many generations to come. Imagine what it would look like to observers a thousand years from now.
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:32 am

As long as no one says Betelguese 5 times in quick succession, we should all be fine. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Betelguese supernova! Should we be concerned?    Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:04 am

I for one would love to witness it go, what a spectacular sight it would be, front row seats to a supernova anyday, sure it would block out observations but...why look anywhere else :-)

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