The star Betelgeuse might someday appear as a spectacular explosion in our sky, a supernova.
Brad Schaefer is an astronomer in Baton Rogue, Louisiana. He said Betelgeuse could become a supernova any day now.
Brad Schaefer: For all we know, Betelgeuse has just gone supernova. Betelgeuse is about a thousand light years away. So if Betelgeuse has gone supernova anytime in the last thousand years, the light of this supernova explosion could be speeding to us even as we speak – maybe it will arrive tonight – and suddenly Betelgeuse will flash into being brighter than a million full moons in the sky – all up above us. It would be a spectacular sight.
Schaefer said that if Betelgeuse replaced the sun in our solar system, Earth would be submerged inside this star. Its outer layers would extend halfway to Jupiter. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant. It long ago burned up its main star fuel – hydrogen – that keep stars like our sun shining.
… How close could Earth be to a supernova, without suffering damage? Schaefer said that people argue back and forth about this (there are many unknown effects that go into these sorts of calculations), but, he said, a typical figure might be 100 light years away. – earthsky
Betelgeuse one of the largest stars ever observed may explode in a Supernova within a timeframe of a few thousand years (if it hasnt already), when it does it will easily outshine the moon in the night sky and be visible in daylight. I really hope this happens in my lifetime (and lucky the rotational axis of the star rules out any extinction causing Gamma ray burst reaching Earth). – youtube
Bright Red Star In Constellation Orion Has Shrunk By 15 Percent In 15 Years
The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, the bright reddish star in the constellation Orion, has steadily shrunk over the past 15 years, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers.
Long-term monitoring by UC Berkeley’s Infrared Spatial Interferometer (ISI) on the top of Mt. Wilson in Southern California shows that Betelgeuse (bet’ el juz), which is so big that in our solar system it would reach to the orbit of Jupiter, has shrunk in diameter by more than 15 percent since 1993.
Since Betelgeuse’s radius is about five astronomical units, or five times the radius of Earth’s orbit, that means the star’s radius has shrunk by a distance equal to the orbit of Venus.
“To see this change is very striking,” said Charles Townes, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of physics who won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the laser and the maser, a microwave laser. “We will be watching it carefully over the next few years to see if it will keep contracting or will go back up in size.”
…” we do not know why the star is shrinking,” Wishnow said
“The cause for this reduction is unknown, as it is unclear how red supergiants behave near the end of their lives.” – newsci
Researchers believe Betelgeuse is at the collapse stage and may explode into a supernova once its iron fuel is depleted. A supernova explosion would result in a big fireworks show, blasting newly created elements into the universe and leaving behind a much smaller neutron star. – chattahbox