2010-06-02 : Astronomical Fireworks

This summer, we might be in for some serious astronomical fireworks: Betelgeuse could be within as little as weeks of a Type II (core collapse) supernova. Well, that is, 540-some years ago, Betelgeuse could have been within as little as weeks of a Type II supernova. We're just finding out about it now, as its light reaches us.

According to the linked, if it goes, it could be two and a half times as bright as the full moon, visible for weeks or months or even a couple of years.

Here's hoping!

(via a bunch of twitters)

Update: Turns out there's no basis in fact, and while Betelgeuse probably will end in a supernova, there's no good reason to think it'll be this summer (that is, this summer of 540-some years ago) or indeed anytime soon. No fireworks for us.

1. On 2010-06-02, Vincent said:

I wrote "here's hoping" and felt a pang of conscience. I'm hoping for the destruction of a star? For my own casual entertainment? Jeez.

I revise:

Here's hoping, and here's hoping that nobody needed Betelgeuse for anything, and here's hoping that if there was anybody nearby they got safely out of the way with a minimum of tragedy and personal inconvenience.

No bad wishes from me, space people! I hope you're all okay and happy.


2. On 2010-06-02, Meguey said:

Realizing of course that any space people who might have needed Betelgeuse for anything needed it 540-some years ago. But still, no bad wishes, most-likely dead theoretical space people!


3. On 2010-06-02, Shane said:

Have you read Arthur C. Clarke's The Star? Poor space people.

A comment at your link throws some cold water on Betelgeuse's explosion. And I find myself thinking "alas". We're all showing the human love of 'safe' thrills, right? "Adventure is something that happens to other people."


4. On 2010-06-02, shane said:

Ooopsie, embarrassing link snafu. try


5. On 2010-06-02, Vincent said:

Yeah, it turns out there's probably no basis, alas.

Ha! Alas for us, alas for my casual entertainment. Good for any theoretical people who need Betelgeuse for something.


6. On 2010-06-04, Shane said:

Which, you know, that might be us one day. And then wouldn't we feel foolish for having wished it kaboomed now.


7. On 2010-06-07, Larry L said:

Okay, okay... I'll try to be there when it happens. Are you taking pre-orders or something? Can I put it on my credit card?


8. On 2010-06-09, joshua said:

I'd just like to point out that Betelgeuse, interesting and beautiful though it is, is almost certainly lifeless, being, as it is, larger than the orbit of Mars. It's also substantially variable, meaning that its intensity changes all the time.

I say this because it would appear that no one would have to be inconvenienced for our trivial entertainment.

... not that our wishes for such entertainment had any effect on the star's sequence 640 years ago.


9. On 2010-06-09, joshua said:

... and I just randomly came across this illustration!


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