The Betelgeuse star only has 36 percent of its normal brightness left. The red super giant, which is part of the constellation Orion, has been dimming since 2019, but is also changing shape.
Betelgeuse is normally one of the brightest stars in the night sky. With about the size of the orbit of Jupiter, which is 4.5 times as large as the orbit, it is also one of the largest.
From new image that it European Southern Observatory with the Very Large Telescope (VLT), it appears that Beletgeuze has taken on a different form.
Miguel Montargès, research leader at the Catholic University of Leuven, has made various images in recent months, making the changes visible.
Red super giants such as Betelgeuse represent one of the last stages in the existence of a heavy star. Because the star was dim, a possible supernova was thought of. This explosion would be clearly visible from the earth, but astronomers still believe that there is little chance that this will happen in the short term.
“Can be surprised”
Montargès is working on two scenarios: “Possibly the surface cools down due to extraordinary stellar activity, or a large cloud of star dust is coming our way that conceals part of the star. But we don’t know everything about these red super giants yet, so we can become surprised. “
Betelgeuse is about seven hundred light-years from the earth. All the activities that we now observe, therefore, took place about seven hundred years ago.