back to article Zaphod Beeblebrox home sun 'shrinking', may have blown up

The red giant star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion - famed as the home sun of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy characters Zaphod Beeblebrox and Ford Prefect - is shrinking rapidly. Astronomers say that it has shrunk by 15 per cent since 1993, by which they mean that it actually did so in the mid 16th century. It may, in …

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Boffin

We're in luck...

Apparently a supernova explosion at such a short distance is capable of wreaking such havoc on Earth that climate change would be the least of our problems. The main culprit would be the gamma-ray blast. Fortunately the blast won't be pointing towards us (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse)

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Anonymous Coward

cor please blow up in my lifetime

its close enough to watch !!!!

ac for fearof the douglas fans ....

RIP dNA

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Unhappy

Bye bye Betelgeuse

Blimey, I thought climate change was having far reaching effects, but this?

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Coat

Belgium, man! Belgium!

Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

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It's the economy

We're obviously not the only ones suffering from deflation.

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Alert

Supernova, run for the hills

run, run, run *now.* The world's going to end, and all that.

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Betelgeuse

I think of Beetlejuice when I see the word Betelgeuse

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Paris Hilton

Hey, Earth Apes

My shoulder? My hand? What? Everyone who's anyone knows it's my very, very lovely Presidential pelvis. I would also like to point out that it is not shrinking. I've never been hipper. Phreow. Get with it, you monkeys.

Who's the hot chick?

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Anonymous Coward

And in other news from the western spiral arm ...

"Some say that "Betelgeuse" refers in fact to Orion's "hand" or "arm". However an awful lot of people go with "armpit of the Central One"

And here's my Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning ....

siigned

Grunthos The Flatulent

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Anonymous Coward

Is it...

...the great collapsing hrung incident on the way?

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Just as well it's going to be a Type 2 supernova, then

I understand the explosion of a Type 1a, at such proximity, would probably cause a mass extinction (indeed, some speculate that at least one global extinction event in the past may have been caused by a supernova going off, near by). As it is, this is just going to be one hell of a bright light.

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Paris Hilton

Run for the hills?

Run for the mines more likely.

Paris, because she knows when it's a good idea to go down.

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Unhappy

It'll be so nice to see...

....except for the fact there's another article on The Register telling me I can't see it from my present location no matter how hard I try.

Hopefully the bright light will get through the (ahem) cancer causing light pollution!

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Err...isn't this kinda close to us?

I mean I'm not expert but a few hundred light years is quite close astronomically speaking and it is possible for the radiological effects of a supernova to be felt over quite long distances.

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Alpha Orionis

This nomenclature is fairly modern. All stars in a given constellation are names in order of apparent magnitude, so Alpha Orionis is, simply, the brightest star in Orion, Beta Orionis (also known as Rigel) is the second-brightest, and so on.

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But how's it pronounced?

I've heard both "beetle-juice" and "bettle-guise". Any astronomy geeks care to weigh in?

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Alien

Cosmic neighbours?

So Zaphod and Ford live next door to Kodos and Kang?

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jai
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well..

...i for one welcome our froody overlord-dudes who always know were their towels are

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Anonymous Coward

For all of those panicking about a nearby supernova

you have a slightly more pressing task at hand to deal with first, namely extending your own lifespan for another 300 years or so. Away you go!

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Coat

Missing Matter in Orion ?

Tsss. once again Zaphod is obviously the main culprit for such blatantly iresponsible robbery ...

Anyway talking about harm pit with a two headed three arms guy can be tricky ...

mine the one with the little book and the Sub-Etha Sense-O-Matic ...

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@Rainy Rat

Beetlejuice!

Beetlejuice!

Beetlejuice!

...oh crap.

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Alien

Pronounciation

According to Patrick Moore it's 'BETel-gurz'.

He is getting on a bit now, mind you.

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Thumb Up

A replacement star....

...could presumably be sorted out by Slartibartfast and his friends on Magrathea, couldn't it?

If not there were some very similar people in Robert Sheckley's "Dimension of Miracles". I forget their names, but they did make their own atoms, using micro-centifuges to spin up electrons before firing them towards atomic nuclei to be captured. When asked if they made the sub-atomic particles, the response was "Oh no, we buy those in from contractors, never could be bothered with all of that piddling small stuff!"

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Coat

Time to relocate to...

Stavomula Beta, then?

Yes, the duffle coat, thanks

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You can't trust an astrnomer...

They do stupid things like demote pluto from planet status for stupid reasons.

If they say it one ways its because the rest of us have made jokes about it.

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Anonymous Coward

wot, no 2000AD references?

Zaphod isn't the only luminary to have been left homeless by this...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Go

Um, yeah

The best news is, if it does go supernova and cause mass extinction, the green weenies and Brazilian president will be too dead to attribute all this to American industrialization and evil blue eyed white guys in New York City.

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Happy

@Brian Morrison

Sorry to be a pedant (weeeell, technically that's a lie...)

Ol' Slartibartfast and his Magrathean chums made palnets, and not stars.

Although, they may be branching out into another niche market.

And I, for one, welcome our white hole matter gobbling mice overlords

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Happy

When it goes, I won't be able to see it.

It's these Joo Janta Super Peril-Sensitive sunglasses that I bought.

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@Rainy hat

Sure, I'll weigh in. The answer in my experience is 'yes' and I know that was supposed to be an either or question.

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@Torben Mogensen

And your comment raises what to my mind at least is the more interesting question. Betelgeuse is as bright as it is currently because it is a fairly hot supergiant. After the supernova, the reduction in both size and temperature are likely to radically reduce its luminosity. So will it remain Alpha Orionis because it was designated that at the time of it's discovery, or do we reorganize the names of all the stars in the constellation?

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Coat

Betelgeuse replacement?

So, since it's obvious that a mistake is at the root of the impending Betelgeuse supernova, can anyone from Interspatial Engineering confirm the readiness of Betelgeuse, mark II?

Mines the one labeled "Mostly Harmless".

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Typical!

I bet one of the astronomers let Betelgeuse go through the wash in his or her pants pocket.

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Quaequam Blag!

This is clearly Tharg the Mighty winding up a Rigellian Hotshot, as ane fule kno.

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In any case, hadly 'Galaxy shaking'

It's 20 times heavier than the sun. It's hardly going to "shake a galaxy" when it goes. It'll be a typical type 2 burnout. Shining at several times the brightness of the full moon for maybe a week or two.

Type 2s blow off their surface layers when they go, and it is those surface layers that absorb the radiation from the explosion and produce the visible light. You, me, the air you breathe and everything in your imediate vicinity - all of this matter was createdd during a process just such as this, when some unknown star, or stars, exploded long in the past. Type 2s are the creators of worlds, not their destroyers.

Technically, no supernova could ever directly cause a mass extinction, anyway. Even a Gamma ray burst from a 1a would only blow off the planet's ozone layer on the exposed hemisphere: it would be your own star that then slowly irradiated all the life on the affected half of the planet during the days that followed. If you happened to have the good fortune to be on the shadow side from the burst, you'd probably retain enough ozone above you to survive until the ozone across the afflicted side had replenished itself.

No, sorry: the Brazilians are right. It's the greedy blue-eyed white bastards that will probably be the death of us, not some distant star.

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@Steve Mann

If he or she had done that, the rest of Orion would now also be a washed out pinkish colour too.

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@Daniel 1

Good points, but to put my pedant hat on, only those elements heavier than iron and nickel are typically created during R-nucleosynthesis in a supernova. 'You, me, the air you breathe and everything in your imediate vicinity' are all things that are typically composed of light elements -e.g. hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulphur, etc., which are created once a star moves off the main sequence and becomes a red giant.

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4 Ed Blackshaw

But we wouldn't see that for about 430 years or so. If it wasn't for the pesky vacuum of deep space we might have heard it rattling around in the drum during the rinse cycle.

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@Daniel1

>>Type 2s are the creators of worlds, not their destroyers.

Er - I think that depends on the the space-time coordinates of the worlds in question...?

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Coat

Why can't they...

Just go and buy a new star, piece of cake.

They sell bags of them at Tesco, not too much £1.69 I think

Then get someone to stick it back up on the Blue/Black wrapper around Earth

All this talk of a universe, anyone would think there was something more important than my computer.

Sheesh

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Stop

Re: Cosmic neighbours

"So Zaphod and Ford live next door to Kodos and Kang?"

As much as Zaphod and Ford live "next door" to Tom & Jerry. It's a further 250 to 450 lightyears to Rigel.

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Alien

we should be safe

Its over 400 light years away.

Now if it was say 8 light years away, then all we'd see is a huge purple flash in the sky caused by the gamma radiation interacting with the air followed by a mass extinction event

Closer than 4 light years and the lucky ones would be on the side of the planet facing the supernova... because they'd die in about 5 seconds while the unlucky merely wait their turn to be roasted as the earth revolves..........

But 400 odd light years..... be a nice glow in the sky you could see in the day and brighter than the moon during the night.

Aliens... because they've already seen it....

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Alert

I'm sure the Creationists will be all over this...

... 'cause it's the end of the world as we know it. Always looking for ways to force fit science with myth.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Blitheringeejit

Err, I think Daniel was generally referring to "worlds" that were to develop after the supernova. Obviously.

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Coat

Forty-two

Oddly, the Register comment system doesn't allow a title consisting solely of "42". What a shame.

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Alien

Borag Thung Earthlings!

I Tharg the mighty can assure that Betelguese has not imploded (yet). Indeed I am gaining a healthy green tan as I sit here eating polystyrene cups and reading the latest edition of 2000AD.

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Italian Job connection?

Personally I suspect this was more related to the activities of one Zaphod Beeblebrox who in the process of trying to "relieve" the planet of some valuable asset or other maybe went a little over the top and did his version of the infamous Michael Kane line "You're only supposed to blow the ruddy doors off...!".

Or it was a giant bouncy castle...

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Just popped in...

...to 56 LY out from BJ. Quite a pretty show. Planning to go back next year to 57 LY out and see it again.

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Boffin

its "variable" star that increases or decreases intensity....

sometimes brighter than rigal, this star has been fluxuating for long, long time. So spakthe BEn. drashek m&m. d.

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