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Betelgeuse dimming again

An optical image of Betelgeuse taken in 2017 by a ground-based
telescope, showing its not unusual aspherical shape.
Click for original image.

It appears that the red giant star Betelgeuse is once again dimming, as it did in 2019-2020.

Betelgeuse, located in Orion’s right shoulder, ordinarily shines at magnitude +0.4, a close match to neighboring Procyon in Canis Minor. But since late January it’s lost some of its luster — at least a third of a magnitude’s worth. That may not sound like much especially given the star’s variable nature, but the red supergiant star is currently the faintest it’s been in the past two years.

Betelgeuse is less like a stable star and more like a gasbag in weightlessness, its shape bouncing in and out as convection bubbles from within push their way to the surface. In some cases, as in 2019-2020, a burst of a bubble releases dust and material, which scientists believe acted to block the star’s light at that time. The dimming now could be for the same reason. Or it could be because the star’s brightness is fundamentally variable. For years it reliably pulsed every 400 days, though that variation pattern now seems to have vanished since 2020.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • F

    “Betelgeuse is less like a stable star and more like a gasbag in weightlessness…”

    Sounds like the majority of our politicians!

  • TallDave

    it’s worrying for the prospects of finding other life in the Milky Way that Sol just happens to be freakishly stable

    the weak anthropic principle seems to get stronger every year

  • vermindust

    Most of the sites i visit would instantly assume the inconsistent light from Betelgeuse was caused by an alien mega-structure orbiting. I like the wobbly-gas-bag-full-of-fire image better. As it is one of the five stars i can actually point at and name, i hope it doesn’t pop or blow up or anything.

    if it does pop, it happened 400 years ago and we will be watching re-runs when the news gets to us.

  • Carlos Rodriguez

    Will Al Gore and John Kerry spin this into their global warming theories?

  • wayne

    Dr. Jordan Peterson
    “The Reliability of your Computer depends on the Stability of the Political System & The Sun.”

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