Images via – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betelgeuse You may not be aware of this, unless you love astronomy, but the star Betelgeuse dying, having reached the end of a billions of years long life cycle, and currently in what are believed to be the terminal stages, shedding vast amounts of gas into the surrounding space, having become a red supergiant so massive that it will have to, at some point in the future, detonate, becoming in that instant asupernova. Even though this incredibly tense drama is taking place 640 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation of Orion, when this tumultuous star goes, astronomers believe that it will be so bright as to be visible, even in daytime, to us on this planet, so the fact that it is exciting so much attention is small wonder, really. To be perfectly honest, this incredible stellar is a celebrity amongst celestial objects, viewed countless times by astronomers, but the reason it is creating such a buzz right now is the rumour circulating on the world-wide web that Betelgeuse is, in fact, about to explode any day now, and since it is definitely believed by the star-gazing fraternity that, when it goes, we will be able to see the explosion for some weeks during the day.
Of course, since the star is so distant, it would mean, should we actually start to witness the appearance of this new sun in out skies, that in fact the star had gone supernova at least 640 years before that, so quite how these pundits have come up with this speculative forecast is unclear. Perhaps a lost quattrain from Nostrodamus has appeared, and translated as meaning what the translator wants it to mean? Betelgeuse last made news headlines when a study showed that the star seemed to be research, though astronomers pointed out that such shrinkage was part of the natural star life cycle, or else it could be that the star is asymmetrical, though it is this speculation, among others, which led to the conclusion of a supposedly imminent explosion. Of course we have nothing to fear, because Betelgeuse is so far away that it can do no more than provide we earthlings with a spectacular, celestial firework display, though this does not stop doomsday theorists and tabloid writers making a meal of it. At best the supernova will seem as bright as a full moon, and since Betelgeuse is not the type of star which will emit lots of gamma-ray radiation, that will also not be a problem. There can be no doubt that this event is set to happen, just as night follows day, but when we get to notice it is dependant purely upon the fickle finger of celestial fate, but right now there certainly is no indication that the event will happen anytime soon. Remember that stars measure time in a way humanity could never understand it, so please do not hold your breath waiting for a supernova that might not happen for a million years as we see it, and whether we will still be around to witness it is another question entirely.
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