An international research team led by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) has been able to uncover a set of secrets of Betelgeuse, one of the brightest and most important stars in the sky, and it turns out that it is not of the size or distance that scientists have imagined for more than half a century Went on.
In order to reach those results, which were published in The Astrophysical Journal and announced by the university in an official statement on the 16th of This October, the team used some kind of hydrodynamic and seismic modeling to analyze the decrease in luminosity of the star in the night sky during 2019.
The star is striking
Orion, the star in the constellation Orion, caught the attention of the whole world during 2019 and 2020 when its brightness suddenly decreased twice in succession.
We now know that the first drop in luminosity was due to a huge cloud of dust that passed in front of this star, according to a study published last March in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
But the second drop in the luminosity of the star is what attracted the attention of the researchers of this team, as it became clear to them that this decrease was due to seismic pulses shaking the entire star, which is a common phenomenon in all stars but varies in intensity, and by calculating the nature of those pulses, the team found that the Orbit of Gemini is still Helium burns in its core.
Hydrogen is the fuel of the stars, you incorporate it into their nucleus and get the energy out of this fusion, and at the end of the stars’ lives, most of the hydrogen in the nucleus has been converted into helium, so the nucleus begins to merge helium to obtain energy, and then new elements appear, gradually starting from carbon and oxygen and reaching To iron.
The Orbit of Gemini is one of those stars that go through an aging period, and when its luminosity has decreased, some researchers put a hypothesis saying that it has almost exploded, but according to the new study, the presence of helium in the nucleus of Betelgeuse means that there is still a long way in front of it before the explosion, as it needs about An additional 100,000 years before helium turns into iron.
Secrets of the Old Star
Besides these results, the study also found that the distance between us and the Orbit of Gemini is not as the researchers imagined during the past decades (about 700 light years), and that it is only 530 light years, which in turn affected the researchers’ calculations to know the size of the giant star.
Scientists had previously predicted that if the sun was placed, its size would have reached the orbit of Jupiter, but the new study indicates that it is about a third smaller than that.
In order to find the sizes of the stars, the scientists determine very accurate the diameter of the star in the night sky with respect to the earth, then they – through the light from the star – determine the distance between us and it, and then based on that they calculate its true size.
For the purpose of clarification, imagine that someone is holding a ball and moving away from you little by little, the farther away from you the size of the ball will get smaller in your eyes, and if you can accurately measure the diameter of the ball and the distance between you and it, you will be able to determine the true size of the ball.
It seems, then, that the case of intense controversy sparked by Orbiter was beneficial, as it brought it to the attention of scientists to examine it with a greater degree of accuracy.
Unfortunately, this news is sad for amateur astronomers around the world, as they waited to see a near explosion of a star with their eyes, and it seems that Orbiter Gemini – who was the most famous candidate – has come off the list.