As you probably know by now, Betelgeuse is a real mess. It got through a lot of phases, all of them displaying a significant yet strange fading. Scientists tried to understand such a cosmic issue, but they’re not so sure, and some even chose to believe that Betelgeuse will become a supernova. Recently, however, a group of scientists from the University of Washington and the Lowell Observatory might get another idea – Betelgeuse is dusty.
How Betelgeuse is only dusty and is not dimming at all is what recent research reveals. The team of scientists found that Betelgeuse is warmer than previously believed. So, the red supergiant star process of dimming isn’t caused by a cooling of its ground. It has most probably removed some material from its outer layers.
“Red supergiants will occasionally shed material from their surfaces, which will condense around the star as dust. As it cools and dissipated, the dust grains will absorb some of the light heading toward us and block our view,” explained Emily Levesque, a UW Associate Professor of Astronomy.
Betelgeuse is dusty, not dimming, new research revealed
If such an idea turns out to be accurate, astronomers forecast that Betelgeuse will explode as a supernova within the following 100,000 years. But the res supergiant dimming, which started back in October 2019, wasn’t necessarily a sign of an imminent supernova, according to Philip Massey, an astronomer from the Lowell Observatory. One belief was that recently created dust was absorbing some of Betelgeuse’s light.
Another said that massive convection cells within Betelgeuse had pulled warm material up to its ground, where it had cooled before slipping back into the core. Measuring a star’s temperature is one of the most challenging things scientists could do. However, they succeeded in finding out Betelgeuse’s average ground temperature on February 14. It was approximately 3,325 degrees Celsius.
Such results doubt that the giant star is dimming due to one of the star’s immense conviction cells had taken hot gas from the core to the surface when it had cooled. Massey added: “A comparison with our 2004 spectrum showed immediately that the temperature hadn’t changed significantly. We knew the answer had to be dust.”