Betelgeuse Is Shapeshifting, And The Scientists Are Baffled

With the latest actions of the massive star, scientists don’t know what to believe anymore. Is it Betelgeuse diminishing even more or only partly? The red supergiant has been dimming significantly over the last few months, and according to its current status, things got worse, as it seems to be shapeshifting now.

From one of the 11th brightest star, now reaches only the 24th! Such a situation led to many debates and the possibility of Betelgeuse turning into a supernova. For now, those chances are improbable.

Betelgeuse’s State Is Unknown

Betelgeuse is known as a variable star, so modifying its brightness sometimes is normal. It can do that up and down by a low percentage, generally on an approximately 420-day cycle. As for the factors, it can depend.

Sometimes the uppermost atmosphere of the bloated star catches heat and light, modifying its dimension and brightness. Again, all of that is normal for such a massive star. Currently, however, it seems not even Betelgeuse is sure of what to do. Back in December 2019, scientists utilized the Very Large Telescope packed with the excellent SPHERE camera to catch a glimpse of the red supergiant. What they captured was quite intriguing yet strange.

Betelgeuse’s Recent Behavior Puzzles The Scientists

Betelgeuse displayed its actual disk, appearing more dimmer in its lower half due to the massive diminishing of almost 50 % of its usual brightness. Scientists knew that Betelgeuse is fading more and more, but with the latest discovery, it’s hard what to believe anymore.

The pictures show how only one part is dimming, while the upper part remains bright. How can it be possible? Well, such a star got a deep convective cover. So, a bit of its atmosphere where cooler gas wastes and hot gas increases.

These things can get magnetic fields embodied in them, which can get trapped together, conflicting with the standard convective method. Then, those groups of a hot gas increase, arriving at the surface, cooling and darkening. They can’t return, however, because of the magnetic field.

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Carrie J. Bronstein

About the Author: Carrie J. Bronstein

Carrie Bronstein helped bring Webby Feed from a weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to Webby Feed, Carrie mainly covers mobile news and gadgets.

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