No people, Betelgeuse is not going supernova

First of all, I have no idea how this rumour started, but a number of people signaled this already; the rumour sounded something like this:

I was talking to my son last week (he works on Mauna Kea), and he mentioned some new observations (that will no doubt get published eventually) of “Beetlejuice”; it’s no longer round. This is a huge star, and when it goes, it will be at least as bright as that 1054 supernova…except that this one is 520 light years away, not 6,300

Yep, it's this big

Yep, it's this big

Betelgeuse is about 100.000 times bigger than the sun, and “just” 600 light years away, so if it would have gone supernova, it would have been a big deal; although it probably wouldn’t hurt us, it would be an astronomical bonanza like no other ever seen in our history.

I don’t know where this rumour first popped out, but by the I read it, it sounded really vague and not quite trustworthy; sounded like something somebody heard from somebody who sort of heard it. It’s also not true, at least according to the man who runs the observatory on Mauna Kea. According to him:

Betelgeuse will go supernova within the next 100,000 years, so the odds against it doing so in the next year are 100,000-to-1. We have no information about “recent” observations of Betelgeuse collapsing. It’s actually quite unlikely that Betelgeuse would have been targeted for observation in the last month or so, as it’s not unfavorably close to the Sun and therefore difficult to observe.

2 thoughts on “No people, Betelgeuse is not going supernova

  1. Josh

    The star has not gone supernova yet but the date length is in the next 10,000 years not 100,000. Recent observations from several stations globally have noted that Betelgeuse is in-fact shedding mass at an increased rate, far faster than anticipated.
    It’s certainly no rumour though clearly whoever told you this has gotten their information slightly skewed.

    As it is its a well known fact that due to its age and size relative to its class that the star is highly unstable.
    It would be no surprise to see it go supernova far sooner than expected.
    Its certainly no threat to Earth given the distance, but the resulting explosion will easily be visible from earth and likely up to four times brighter than the moon in the night sky, and most certainly visible in the daylight hours.

    I found out about what was going on via the news, so this is no rumour as Im sure Australian journalists have no wish to decieve the entire country with some bad astro-joke.

  2. Danielle

    Actually, Orion is set to go super nova…just not tomorrow. According to NASA Betelgeuse is a candidate to undergo a spectacular supernova explosion almost anytime in the next few thousand years.
    Brad Schaefer (astronomer from Baton Rouge Lousiana) says it could go supernova any time. “For all we know, Betelgeuse has just gone supernova. Betelgeuse is about a thousand light years away. So if Betelgeuse has gone supernova anytime in the last thousand years, the light of this supernova explosion could be speeding to us even as we speak – maybe it will arrive tonight – and suddenly Betelgeuse will flash into being brighter than a million full moons in the sky – all up above us. It would be a spectacular sight.”

    The predicted outcome really depends on who you talk to.

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