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Space Science

Rumor of Betelgeuse's Death Greatly Exaggerated 356

Posted by kdawson
from the holding-out-for-twenty-twelve dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A rumor is spreading on the Net like wildfire that the red supergiant star Betelgeuse is about to explode in a supernova. This rumor is almost certainly not true. First, it's posted on a doomsday forum. Second, it's three times removed from the source, and is anonymous at each step. Third, the evidence is shaky at best. Plus, even if true, the supernova is too far away to hurt us. But other than that ..."
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Rumor of Betelgeuse's Death Greatly Exaggerated

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  • Of course it is. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:31PM (#32424996)

    Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse.

    There he is right there.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:33PM (#32425020)
    If Betelgeuse goes supernova tomorrow, it will take 495 years for the light to reach us! Or are we arguing about whether or not it went supernova 495 years ago...
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PingXao (153057) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:34PM (#32425026)

    I mean, does this story warrant inclusion on slashdot? There are plenty of other places to go for bad rumors and conspiracy theories.

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:59PM (#32425318) Homepage Journal
    The Apocalypse, the Communist Conspiracy, The Mayan Calendar, Global Warming, Global Freezing, The Heat Death of the Universe, The Comet Calamity, Alien Invasion, The Super Bug, Al-Qaeda, The Neo Nazis, The Neocons, the Return of the Old Ones, Tesla's Super Weapon, The Collapse of the Dollar, The Collapse of the Universe... I don't quite get why we're still here. We should have been wiped out many times over.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:06PM (#32425400)

    it is way beyond the point at which I give a flying fuck

    The reason you give a flying fuck is that an event like this (a supernova the brightness of the full moon lasting for weeks or months) will bring out all of people's craziest fears. For some span of time, society will operate in a significantly less rational way. So you want to do your best to figure out two things: how long will this period of irrational behaviour last, and will that irrational behaviour manifest in ways that affect me?

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nextekcarl (1402899) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:14PM (#32425490)

    You just did. And so did the parent poster. But I suppose you might both be nobodies, so maybe you're right?

  • ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:15PM (#32425504) Homepage
    The blog writer complains that this rumor is "spreading like wildfire" but only cites to a single forum where the rumor apparently started. The blow writer then makes a snide comment about a "doomsday" forum, and then spends time with what appears to be an exasperated manner of speaking declaring that a supernova at that distance wouldn't cause any danger, only the original forum post never said it would--it basically saying how cool this would be to see. Why does it feel like a manufactured controversy? As best I can tell this anonymous forum poster may have been mistaken, but the reaction from the Discover blog is ridiculously out of proportion to that mistake.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:16PM (#32425514)
    Seriously... "about to" in astronomical terms could be a million years from now. By that reasoning I could say that a lot of stars in the universe are about to go Supernova. Same as saying "Yellowstone is about to erupt."

    Move on, slashdotters, once again there's nothing to see...

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:30PM (#32425646)

    Now we finally know what a collapsing hrung is.

  • Re:ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:38PM (#32425722)

    Probably because of statements like these:

    When it collapses, it will be at least as bright as the full moon, and maybe as bright as the sun. For six weeks. So the really lucky folks (for whom Betelgeuse is only visible at night) will get 24 hour days, everybody else will get at least some time with two suns in the sky. The extra hour of light from daylight savings time won't burn the crops, but this might.

    If this is really as bright as the sun (and no one is really sure; this is about the biggest star that's ever been recorded)...then all the other doom scenarios become small beer.....

    Hmm all this talk of 6 weeks of constant daylight and two suns in the sky from Betelgeuse which happens to be not far away at all from where google sky, wiki etc blacked out an area said to contain nibiru

    photons are photons and as bright as the sun would include as hot as the sun.

    Maybe it won't be as bad for people who are in the winter hemisphere. Or not. Geez. No part of the planet would be unaffected.

    Those were from page 1 of the forum thread. Not exactly a bastion of critical thinking.

  • Re:News? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:00PM (#32425912) Homepage

    Ah yes, Chronomancy [bookofratings.com], the art of telling the future by waiting to see what happens.

  • Re:I also heard... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by archangel9 (1499897) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:19PM (#32426062)

    "No Mom. You cannot make win a free XBox by punching that monkey...". But I digress.

    Too late. She already punched my monkey and won a free facial.

  • Why is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeGee (85189) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:21PM (#32426074)
    People will take a phenomenon verified by hundreds of scientists in dozens of studies, global warming, and dismiss it because they got stuck in a snow drift. Then they'll turn around and forward an email that cites a brother's wife's uncle's cousin as breathless proof of impending calamity? I know the answer -- people are stupid. The question is purely rhetorical. :)
  • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:01PM (#32426330)

    Because if anyone (or anything) is around to notice itself existing, it is safe to say conditions appear to allow their existence. Ergo, only those who who live in those conditions will be around questioning why would everything work out so nice for life when the universe appears quite hostile towards existence.

    See: Anthropic principle [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:News? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:49PM (#32427558)

    There exists a possibility that aliens that have FTL drives arrived on Earth thousands of years ago and said to the Mayans: "A star X years away from you just went supernova. We were observing it. So in X years you guys will really be fucked. Probably should mark it on your calender. We would come back again to remind you, but we are powerful aliens with a universe to see. So we will be busy and largely don't give a fuck."

    The angular momentum of the star might be such that it will hit us with a gamma ray burst.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @12:40AM (#32427840)
    Global warming affect them, and they know that if true, it could point back at their own excess, or force them to change their lifestyle. A big problem. Whereas beltegeuse exploding, it won't affect anybody, so they don't mind spreading the rumor as a joke. The one REALLY stupid which REALLY think that would affect them, would not be able to come with the idea anyway.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:11AM (#32430304)

    Everybody want to talk, like they got something to say. But nothing comes out when they move their lips, it's just a bunch of gibberish. You motherfuckers act like you forgot about Dre.

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