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back to article Red supergiant Betelgeuse heads for SMACKDOWN with 'dust bar'

Earth's nearest supergiant red star Betelgeuse is on its way to a spectacular collision when it smacks into a "nearby" dust bar. The whole process will take thousands of years, however. Betelgeuse's enigmatic environment The European Space Agency's Herschel telescope has snapped a new image of Betelgeuse, which is in …

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Anonymous Coward

And we will be swallowed up 32 mins and 6 seconds later.

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Boffin

What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Why should passing through a gas cloud trigger a Supernova?

It's probably so thin it will have no particular effect anyway, but it would take a LOT more to affect the activity in the star's core.

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Mushroom

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

IIRC and its very hazy, the supernova is suddenly the stable way when mass increases to a certain point . Betelgeuse is close now..

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Straw that will break the cammel's back

Betelgeuse was expected to go supernova within a million years before we saw the dust cloud.

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Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Nothing - they are completely unconnected 'facts' about the star.

The density of the gas bar is so small the star won't notice

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Pirate

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

You've never traveled through MY gas cloud . . .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Or rather with, news. You should have waited some 5000 years, news then perhaps.

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Coat

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

This article should have been tagged with a [b]Watch This Space![/b]

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Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

or - Hold your breath! -

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Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Probably not connected.

OTOH a supernova happens when the star can no longer generate enough radiation pressure to balance the inwards pull due to gravity. Any additional mass might do that if the star is close enough to its tipping point.

For a REALLY spectacular tipping-point event, find out about hypernovae (pair-production catastrophes).

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Mushroom

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

No / kind of - supernovae generally occur either:

a) when the star becomes sufficiently massive / hot to reignite and undergo either helium or carbon fusion through material accumulation; or

b) the outward pressure of the fusion in the core is no longer sufficient to balance the pressure due to the size of the star, causing gravitational collapse. The gravitational collapse increases the density of the core, leading to a) occurring.

Betelgeuse will nova through route b) - it is almost certainly undergoing helium-fusion at the moment, and when the helium concentration in its core becomes too dilute to effectively fuse (ie, the reaction is poisoned by too much carbon and other 'heavy' elements), it'll shed it's outer layers and undergo core collapse before becoming a type II supernova.

<url>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse</url>

Explosion - well... if I need to explain why...

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Go

Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Tsk, didn't you ever watch Blake's 7? All these sorts of questions were answered. In short, travelling through dust clouds is widely regarded to be a Bad Thing, and often causes explosions.

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Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Betelgeuse nova - film at 11:00, 24 January 7653!

(Betelgeuse is about 640 ly away, according to Jimbo's Font of Knowledge.)

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Anonymous Coward

And Ford Prefect considers relocating...

[n/t]

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Alien

But....

... at least it won't affect Tharg the Mighty!

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Joke

Re: But....

Quaequam Blag!!!! Are you sure???

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"Betelgeuse's outer arc will crash into it in just five thousand years and the red star itself will follow, around 12,500 years later"

... so not worth staying up late to watch then ...

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Coat

Are they sure...

that's not just a crease in the film?

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Re: Are they sure...

I think that that comment dates you - few people these days know the pain of finding a cinch mark in that roll of film you wound into the developing spiral :)

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Boffin

Re: Are they sure...

Or the finger print just overlapping the sprockets into the frame.

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Happy

Re: Are they sure...

of the pleasure of squeezing a couple of extra shots onto the leader if you do it right,....

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Anonymous Coward

Pulls up chair, opens popcorn

One of those American supersized popcorns of course

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Coffee/keyboard

@ Eadon - Re: Windows 8 supernova

Wow. Can I have a couple of barrow loads of that heap? My garden could do with a bit of fertilising.

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Re: @ Eadon - Windows 8 supernova

I'd pass on that if I were you - might be infected.

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Facepalm

Re: Windows 8 supernova

For managing to twist the theme of an article about goings on in the cosmos into an unfounded anti-MS rant, well done.

Have a fanboi bell-end of the week award.

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Can't wait for this to happen!

Literally.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't wait for this to happen!

So, since you literally cannot wait, what then? You die? You spontaneously teleport through time?

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DJO
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Boffin

Re: Can't wait for this to happen!

"the odds are far greater than for winning the UK lottery"

Rubbish, with the many worlds interpretation of quantum theory you can guarantee any lottery ticket you buy IS the winning ticket. There is of course a slight problem of ensuring you're in the right universe.

As a version of you in a universe (hopefully this one*) must win, should you decide not to buy a ticket you will deprive a version of yourself a fortune. - What a bastard!

[New advertising campaign for the various lotteries]

*As if!

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Go

re: deprive a version of yourself a fortune

*except in one of the multiverses where you decided to buy a ticket afterall, since the decision itself is subject to quantum splitting.

YMWV :-P

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Re: Can't wait for this to happen!

That makes the lottery an excellent way of counting universes.

I mean - who knew?

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Anonymous Coward

Betelguese has been observed for thousands of years.

Why is it only now that the nearby dust cloud it's moving towards has been spotted?

It's not as if it's only recently moved close to the cloud -- given that it will take thousands of years to reach it.

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Boffin

Because of science!

The cloud only shows up in the far infrared part of the spectrum, interstellar dust is cold, and the atmosphere does a reasonable job of blocking it. If the observers had been able to put a large telescope with a suitable spectral response outside the Earths atmosphere those thousands of years ago then it would have been spotted, otherwise it had to wait for one to be flown which pretty much means Herschel.

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Joke

Or to put it another way:

Well, the thing about space dust - it's main distinguishing feature - is it's black. And the thing about space, the color of space, your basic space color - is it's black. So how are you supposed to see them?

(apologies to Grant Naylor)

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So, this is the cause....

...of global climate change.

Yeah, that's the ticket, supernova causes climate change. See it in 1500 years.

I'll pass!

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Boffin

Perhaps in front or behind

How do they know it will actually hit this this band of dust? Do they know the distances so precisely they know it can't go behind or in front of it?

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Alien

Re: Perhaps in front or behind

In two words - red shift.

We judge distances to objects that throw off light we can detect by how far their light has shifted towards longer wave lengths, i.e. red in the visible spectrum.

That's why aliens always look red. Or is that green... Sorry, bad colour vision.

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Boffin

Re: Red Shift

Redshift only applies as a means of judging distance on large cosmological scales, that is extra-galactic at least, where the overall expansion of the universe applies. Not that you can't measure the shift, but it doesn't tell you how far away the object is (because the galaxy isn't expanding, at least not in the way the universe is)

Within the galaxy, you need to rely on other factors - parallax measurement as the earth goes round the sun is good, if you can measure accurately enough.

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Mushroom

DOOOOOM

Doomed doomed doom.

Unless we found the Betelgeuse Preservation Fund. Now accepting donations.

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Stop

Betelgeuse.

It's not "just above and to the left of the Orion constellation", it's IN Orion. It's Orion's right shoulder. Unless you're 'down under' of course, then it's his leg or something.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse

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Angel

Re: Betelgeuse.

Not if you’re “somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse”, from there orion still looks like some far-off cluster of galaxies.

If b’ chance you wakeup early with another Sun burning in the sky.. that’ll be Betelgeuse going supernova early.. probably best not to “top up the tan” though.

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The shoulder of Orion, you say?

Attack ships were once on fire there...

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Joke

Re: Betelgeuse.

"Unless you're 'down under' of course, then it's his leg or something."

No, it's still in his shoulder, it's just that he's upside-down. Also, his 'sword' is standing erect, presumably because he's on top of the seven sisters.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Betelgeuse.

Your tan will be topped off nicely by the flood of neutrinos

maybe the LHC will start to pay back some of the extortionate cost by then

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Re: Betelgeuse.

If one had a life-span measured in billions of years, one's next thought might be "Whew! That really was a bit close for comfort!"

ISTR a supernova within 100 Ly presents a serious hazard to our biosphere. Some of the mass extinction events in Earth's history might have been so caused.

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Boffin

expected to approach supernova within the next million years

I'm getting the chair out now, while there's room to get a good view.

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Mushroom

Any other supernova candidates?

We're overdue a supernova in our galaxy and I literally* can't wait for betelguese to go.

* I'm starting to doubt that a diet of booze and pizza will make me immortal.

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