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Giant star threatens to explode: Supernova would have consequences - also for our Earth


The near-Earth giant star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion has lost its brightness dramatically. Astronomers interpret this as a harbinger of an upcoming supernova. That would also have an impact on us.

The near-Earth giant star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion has lost its brightness dramatically. Astronomers interpret this as a harbinger of an upcoming supernova. That would also have an impact on us.

  • In our immediate vicinity in the Milky Way , a supernova is emerging .
  • It's about the giant star Betelgeuse .
  • Should there be an explosion in space , this would also have an impact on the earth .

Universe: Supernova in the constellation Orion suggests - Betelgeuse could explode

Munich - Something is happening in the night sky that could become a unique heavenly spectacle in human history. The gigantic star Betelgeuse - it is about 1,000 times the diameter of our sun - could very soon become a supernova and explode, astronomers from Villanova University in the USA suspect. Star death would also have a direct impact on us humans on Earth. Current observations give rise to this assumption.

Space: Red giant has dramatically lost its luminosity - harbinger of a supernova?

The " red giant " Betelgeuse ("hand of the giantess"), the "left shoulder" in the constellation Orion, has dramatically lost its luminosity since October 2019. This can be seen even with the naked eye. The star was previously the 6th brightest object in the night sky , but it is now the 21st. A project by Elon Musk and his SpaceX company also has a serious impact on our night sky - people are currently observing unusual sky phenomena.

Some researchers see evidence of an upcoming supernova. Or a supernova, which has been happening for a long time and is now visible from the earth with a delay, because Betelgeuse is around 640 light years away. It is only a stone's throw in the dimensions of the universe. The star Proxima Centauri, on the other hand, is only 4.2 light years from our sun. The position of the second Exoplanet Proxima c orbiting the star could change research findings in the long term.

Gigantic supernova: explosion in the universe would be visible to the naked eye from Earth

There has never been such a star explosion near Earth since we humans observed the universe. We earth dwellers could experience the spectacle up close - the exploded star would probably shine for weeks in the sky as brightly as the full moon today. The supernova would be visible even during the day.

Most recently, in 1604, our ancestors were lucky enough to be able to observe a supernova in the starry sky without using the latest telescopes. It is known as Keplers Supernova because the astronomer Johannes Kepler documented it. This explosion took place in the constellation Snake Bearer, around 20,000 light years away. So not comparable to this extreme possible supernova in the Orion constellation.


This ESO graphic shows the neighborhood of Betelgeuse to our solar system.

© ESO, L. Calcada

Stern Betelgeuse could explode: there is a risk for us humans on earth

But the imposing supernova could also pose risks for mankind - if only slightly. The reason is neutron and gamma radiation , which are released in such a star explosion. At the request of the world, astronaut and physics professor Ulrich Walter from the Technical University of Munich gave the all-clear, because Betelgeuse is far enough away: “If a star explodes up to ten light years away, at least half of humanity would be exterminated. The acute outbreak of radiation lasts only a few hours. Only half of the earth, which then looks towards the supernova, is grilled by the neutrons and the gamma radiation. People could survive on the other side of the planet. "

But Betelgeuse's Supernova explosion would not be entirely without risk for humans. The earth's ozone layer could be damaged, which could lead to more UV radiation and thus a higher risk of skin cancer .

The star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion could soon die. Or even exploded a long time ago and we just haven't seen it yet.https: //

- Deutschlandfunk Nova (@dlfnova) January 6, 2020

Also read about the universe: British astronaut talks about invisible aliens on Earth

Supernova in the universe: will Betelgeuse actually explode in a timely manner?

However, it is currently unclear how realistic an impending supernova explosion is. While Betelgeuse has never shone as darkly as it has since records have been made, astronomer Edward Guinan has another possible explanation for this. He told the US National Geographic that Betelgeuse always has two overlapping cycles. His thesis: Currently the brightness minimum of both cycles simply coincide, that's why the star appears so dark at the moment. This assumption can be easily confirmed or refuted: a period is 2070 days - so the star should be brighter again in a short time. If this does not happen, according to the astronomer Guinan, "everything is possible".

But there are also other theses for the extreme loss of brightness. For example, extraordinarily large amounts of dust could have been thrown into space, which could affect the view. Density instabilities in the star could also be responsible for the fluctuations in brightness, as astronomer Sarafina Nace from the University of California conjectures Magnetic activity of the star is also suggested as a possible reason.

Space: Betelgeuse does not grow old - very different from our sun

Whether or not the supernova is still visible during our lifetime: Betelgeuse does not grow old in space standards. The red giant is currently around ten million years old - and is not predicted to have a much longer lifespan.

In contrast, our “little” sun is already 4.5 billion years old - and can hope to be only in the middle of its life cycle. In any case, we on earth should wish for this ...

More fascinating discoveries in the universe

Researchers discovered a “pretzel” in space around 700 light years from Earth. This NASA photo is also fascinating: It shows a gigantic "rainbow bubble" in the universe. It is a remnant of a supernova.

An international team of researchers explored three black holes side by side in the core of a galaxy - an extraordinary discovery. We are talking about a “gravity monster”.

On Friday, January 10, you can first observe another special phenomenon in the evening sky: It is a partial penumbra eclipse of the moon. Only in 2022 will we have another chance to see a lunar eclipse in Germany.

A new planet that is the size of the Earth and is considered to be potentially habitable: This incredible discovery has now been made by a NASA research satellite.

The dark energy discovered in 1998 is a scientific revolution. But now a new theory contradicts the discovery that earned a Nobel Prize.

Astronomers have now made an astonishing discovery in space: six objects have been identified in the center of the Milky Way that have so far not been classified.


Rubric list image: © ESO, L. Calcada

Source: merkur

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