THE super-giant red star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion is destined to explode, but maybe not next year as some recent news reports have suggested and will not be as bright as some predicted.
FoxNews.com reported Betelgeuse has already become a red giant, which indicates it will explode and become a supernova.
But experts say it is not likely to happen soon and it will happen far enough away that it will not hurt Earth.
US astronomer Phil Plait noted on his blog that a supernova would have to be no farther than 25 light years away to “fry us with light or anything else and Betelgeuse is 25 times that distance”.
The story at www.news.com.au predicted that a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun, and suggested the event could happen before 2012.
The story quoted a physics lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, Brad Carter, who predicted that when Betelgeuse blows, night time will turn to day for several weeks on Earth.
“This is the final hurrah for the star,” Dr Carter told www.news.com.au.
“It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up – we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”
That story is helping fuel internet rumors and doomsday theories by confounding the impending supernova with the Mayan calendar’s conclusion in 2012 – which some believe is a prediction of the end of the world.
But there’s no reason to think Betelgeuse will blow in 2012, Mr Plait explained, or even this millennium.
“It’s hard to know just when a star will explode when you’re on the outside,” he said.
“Betelgeuse might go up tonight, or it might not be for 100,000 years. We’re just not sure.”
Dr Carter followed up his comments today, saying he knew of no scientific basis to suggest the star would go supernova in time to satisfy doomsday followers’ predictions.
He instead pointed to a New Scientist article that quoted Nobel prize winner Charles Townes as saying there was no way of knowing how red giants behave at the end of their life cycle.
He said that while it will shine with “incredible brightness” it would be more like a full moon, rather than Tatooine’s second sun.
© 2011, Ready For The Shift. ™ Wendy & Greg Zangari, All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy and redistribute these articles on the condition that the content remains complete and in tact, full credit is given to the author(s), and that it is distributed freely.