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Discussion Starter #1
Over the last months Betelgeuse, one of brightest stars in the night sky, dimmed substantially. Its apparent visual magnitude is about 1.4-1.5 now, which is almost one magnitude less than on average. This means that the power of its fusion reactor decreased about twice in a short period of time. Can it signal a bigger event?

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star - a huge (diameter 700x larger than sun's) and very bright star (luminosity of about 100 000 suns). Such stars live shortly and die spectacularly in a supernova explosion, which is most powerful cosmic event (compared to it H-bomb explosions are like glowworms). It's a variable star (so it's brightness normally changes over time) but recent dimming seems pretty significant (more than any observed over last 100 years). According to some studies it still has fuel for about 100 000 years and it's likely that the current dimming doesn't mean anything (after all our short history of sky observations is nothing compared to the age of this young star, "only" 8 million yo).

Still, if it went supernova it would be a treat few people in history witnessed. Despite being over 600 ly from Earth it would be the brightest night object (besides the moon) and would be visible even during a day. I'd love to watch this unique spectacle (even if it means travelling to a place with clear skies), which wouldn't threaten Earth due to a rather safe distance of over 5 000 000 000 000 000 kilometers.
 

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I don't think I'll see it happen in our lifetime. Interesting if it does of course. Then it's not exactly a question of will, but has gone supernova. You won't see anything at all if it hasn't already gone supernova over six centuries in the past.
 

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It's not that inminent. What we see now there happened 600 yrs ago and it seems it'll not yet explode in a few thousand years.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Obviously I realize the time shift of over 600 years. I use future tense to make it simpler and present Earth's perspective.
Orion is looking different than before (last time I saw it yesterday), Betelgeuse is significantly dimmer than Rigel now (the difference was small before) and is looking similar to Bellatrix (which it used to eclipse easily).
 

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Even if Betelgeuse does/did turn into a supernova during our lifetimes the risk for life on Earth is rather low. It’s because the gamma radiation that could damage Earth ozone layer is mainly emmited along the axis of SN’s rotation and Earth is not situated in the plane of the axis of rotation of Betelgeuse.
 

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Even if Betelgeuse does/did turn into a supernova during our lifetimes the risk for life on Earth is rather low. It’s because the gamma radiation that could damage Earth ozone layer is mainly emmited along the axis of SN’s rotation and Earth is not situated in the plane of the axis of rotation of Betelgeuse.
pretty much, and the rest is just relatively dispersed according to the inverse square law.
 
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