A Valentine’s 2020 Update… The Dimming Continues — On Orion’s Shoulder…

UPDATING — Valentines Day News: A stunning new image shows the star changing shape, before our eyes. Think here of the end of the cheesy movie “2010,” when Jupiter collapses. . . and becomes. . . a star, itself [background from New Years]:

This comparison image shows the star Betelgeuse before and after its unprecedented dimming. The observations, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in January and December 2019, show how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed.

These are visible light images, from a Chilean telescope [story here]; they depict a star 69 percent less bright than it was just last fall — and changing shape, becoming decidedly oviod, as it expands. . . outward. Today — tomorrow. . . or in 80,000 years? Who knows? Onward, to the undiscovered country. . . the future. End, updated portion.

While some are citing the Twelfth Century Jewish mystical text Zohar and its prophesies, to suggest the Messiah is soon to arrive (or alternatively, that we are witnessing the end of days) — based on the below. . . I think it likely only amounts to a fascinating interstellar space science event: to be studied for our edification — and ever-increasing fluency — in the language of astro-physics.

It seems the left shoulder super red giant star in the constellation the Greeks called Orion. . .may soon go supernova. And we all may witness up to two years of a night sky with effectively twin moons, aglow. We shall see — but from the fine scientists at Space.com, here’s a bit:

. . . . If the star does become a supernova, Betelgeuse would likely be as bright as, or even brighter than the moon for months and months. . . or even more.

At 642.5 light-years from Earth, it would be the closest supernova observed and recorded by humans (closer than the Crab Nebula, which is 6,523 light-years from Earth and is the result of a supernova reported to have taken place in A.D.1054). This also means that, if we see Betelgeuse explode tonight, the supernova really took place over 600 years ago, we’re only seeing it now. . . .

Indeed — onward then, as ever. . . here, with a 1921 poem / ode to the star — to boot. Smile. . . .

As I say, I expect just a great bit of interstellar physics learning to come of it — tomorrow, or perhaps 100,000 years from tomorrow. Either way. . . it will be fascinating to keep tabs on. So we. . . will.


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