Always wondered how to find Betelgeuse? The picture below will elucidate the location of this gigantic star.
Betelgeuse is also called α Orionis. Betelgeuse originates of the Arab yad al-ǧauzā, the hand of the giantess, sometimes also referred to as the shoulder star of Orion.
Why is Betelgeuse intriguing?
Betelgeuse is a giant star and is classified as a red super-giant. It has about a thousand times the diameter of our sun and has about ten thousand times as much luminosity, as a result of which Betelgeuse can easily be seen in the night sky, as it is the tenth brightest star. This star is of great astronomical interest. Its radius was the first to be determined by interferometry and it varies by about 15%. As a result, also Betelgeuse’s brightness varies a factor between +0.3 and + 0.6. This is one of the very few stars that are visible from Earth as a surface, not just a point in the sky. Most likely this star is an amazing 500 light years away!
In the opinion of astronomers, Betelgeuze will end up as a supernova (read this Guardian article from 2020). Opinions vary when this event will take place: it could happen within the next thousand or one hundred thousand years. The resulting supernova will be easily visible and will shine over the entire firmament. With a red giant of this type you can expect a 16,000-fold increase in the luminosity. This supernova could reach the brightness of the full moon. Luckily enough, the axis of rotation of the star does not point towards the Earth, and the gamma-ray flash would not be so strong that it would affect the Earth’s biosphere. Now, THAT would be a post-apocalyptic experience ! The remnant of this supernova is expected to be a neutron star with a mass 20-times that of the sun.
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