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Space Science

Dying Star Betelgeuse Spews Fiery Nebula 574

Posted by Soulskill
from the lights-in-the-sky dept.
astroengine writes "Betelgeuse is dying a nasty death. The star is in the final, violent stages of its life, shedding vast amounts of stellar material into space as it quickly approaches a supernova demise. But now, with the help of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Betelgeuse's extended nebula has come to light. Comprised of silica and alumina dust, ESO astronomers have been able to image the nebula in infrared wavelengths for the first time. This is the most detailed view we've ever had of the imminent death of a titanic red supergiant star."
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Dying Star Betelgeuse Spews Fiery Nebula

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 24, 2011 @12:18PM (#36557472) Journal

    Can we expect Betelgeuse to go supernova in our lifetimes?

    • If so, then it has already gone supernova. But, no one can yet provide a realistic guess as to when it will self-terminate.
    • I was under the impression that it could be observed anywhere from right now to 10,000 years from now. So don't get your hopes up.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday June 24, 2011 @12:20PM (#36557506)

    I've always loved looking at the stars, and a sky without Orion will be somewhat diminished. But, since this is going to happen anyway, I'd really like to see a spectacular supernova in my lifetime!

    • by jd (1658)

      This was the basis of one of Fred Hoyle's many novels based on the science of the time. (He was an astrophysicist and used fiction as a means of exploring the implications of the science.) In short, his theory was that the supernova would cause such severe global change that it would essentially end civilization and borderline-end humanity.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      betelgeuse is in orion's armpit, so it's only going to blow his arm off

      luckily for orion the star that's going to blow isn't the one at the tip of his dick:

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Orion_constelation_PP3_map_PL.jpg [wikimedia.org]

      oh wait... M42 already IS a nebula. he's already blown his interstellar load

      http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/nebulae/m42.html [atlasoftheuniverse.com]

      cosmic spooge

      apparently orion gets too easily sexually excited when he's hunting

      wait, i'm sorry, it's not his dick, it's his SWORD

      http://upload.wi [wikimedia.org]

    • by necro81 (917438)
      Chances are pretty good that, even once it blows, the supernova remnant will be bright enough for long enough that Orion will still be recognizable as such. It won't be as bright, for certain, but there'll be a visible pinprick of light that will maintain the constellation for a while. Over hundreds and thousands of years it'll diminish, but we'll all be long dead by then.
    • by Teancum (67324)

      From a statical and historical perspective, we've been in an unseasonably long drought of supernovas throughout the sky in general. There may be some reasons for that which can be speculated based upon some theories for the position of our sun through the Milky Way, but it could be like tossing a coin ten times in a row and getting heads all of the time. Several supernovas have been visible to the naked eye in the past, including a couple that could even be seen during the day or even bright enough to cas

  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday June 24, 2011 @12:25PM (#36557568)

    What's wrong with Slashdot editing these days? This happened 640 years ago. And you're only posting now?

    • What's wrong with Slashdot editing these days? This happened 640 years ago. And you're only posting now?

      We've been complaining that all this AJAX crap is slowing things down, but this is ridiculous!

    • Oh, come on. Michael Keaton can't be that old!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      640 years ought to be enough for anybody.
    • No, this is just the re-post.
    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xtifr (1323) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:26PM (#36559810) Homepage

      This happened 640 years ago.

      Plus or minus 150 years! I know you were joking, but this seems like an opportune moment to point out that Betelgeuse's size and associated blobbiness has made it extremely hard to get an accurate parallax [wikipedia.org]. Note that the margin of error (300 ly) is nearly half the estimated distance! I don't believe that there's another star anywhere near as close which has as much uncertainty about its distance. Also note that it's only in the last couple of decades that we've even been able to pin it down this closely! Estimates during most of the 20c. ranged from 120 ly to 1300! The Gaia mission [wikipedia.org] in 2013 should finally resolve most of the remaining uncertainty.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Friday June 24, 2011 @12:27PM (#36557598)

    Comprised of silica and alumina dust, ESO astronomers have been able to image the nebula in infrared wavelengths for the first time.

    The ESO astronomers are made of silica and alumina dust?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

      The astronomers are the indirect object, putting the 'comprised of' descriptor onto the direct object, which is the Nebula.

      • by HBI (604924)

        Excuses can't save a bad sentence,

      • Bzzt. Back of the class. The "astronomers" are the subject of the sentence. "Infrared wavelengths" is the indirect object. In this example, it's clear that the adjectival phrase binds to the subject. There's no syntactic ambiguity about it whatsoever.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Friday June 24, 2011 @12:58PM (#36558096)

        The astronomers are the indirect object, putting the 'comprised of' descriptor onto the direct object, which is the Nebula.

        Umm, excuse me. ESO astronomers is NOT an indirect object. ESO astronomers is the subject of have been which is a linking verb. Just so that you know, linking verbs don't have DOs or IDOs. They have predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives. Comprised of silica and alumina dust is a phrase that is used adjectivally and is intended to modify nebula. However, since the phrase was placed in the front of the sentence, at best, it is dangling. As the phrase is placed now, it modifies astronomers. Whoever modded up the parent needs to go back to grade school.

        • by Xtifr (1323)

          I was with you till your penultimate sentence. The prhase doesn't modify astronomers. English tolerates a certain amount of danglingness, though it severely lowers the register. You wouldn't use that ordering in formal writing, and it's awkward even in casual, but its meaning is clear from context. Of course, relying on context to disambiguate your modifiers is a serious disservice to your readers, and most grade school teachers (who believe in a far more rigid and Platonic version of English than the o

          • All yaall grammarians can kiss my pasty white ass. Hold the tongue.

            I'm telling off this whole inbread tree of pendantic morons with one post.

            Cousin post grammarians can kiss my dogs furry black ass. You better pet him first or he will bite you.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        The astronomers are the indirect object, putting the 'comprised of' descriptor onto the direct object, which is the Nebula.

        "Comprised of" is always wrong. As a general rule, you can use comprise where you use contain, and in the same way. "Contained of" should jar anyone's language ear.

    • by jd (1658)

      Well, yes! That should be obvious.

    • by bitfarmer (219431)

      Comprised of silica and alumina dust, ESO astronomers have been able to image the nebula in infrared wavelengths for the first time.

      The ESO astronomers are made of silica and alumina dust?

      Anthony Weiner imaged himself, too.

    • Comprised of silica and alumina dust, ESO astronomers have been able to image the nebula in infrared wavelengths for the first time.

      The ESO astronomers are made of silica and alumina dust?

      Har har. They should have known without even looking that it's made of beetle juice.

  • Once it's gone, if you call its name three times it'll pop right back!
  • What will this mean to Ford Prefect's home planet?
  • Can anyone confirm if Ford was able to hitchhike out in time?
    • Looks like I can't type faster than the speed of bad jokes. I guess I'll just go back to sucking cocks.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Yes, since the collapsing hrung destroyed it long before the supernovea will. His planet is already destroyed, the supernova won't do anything to whats left that matters to Ford, especially if he's stuck in another reality again.

  • So, Orion's BO is now so strong they can see it with a telescope. Pretty cool. He'd better watch out how high he holds that arm, otherwise he's going to blow out that shoulder joint.
  • Am I the only one who also read that as Beetlejuice? Man, first that show, and now this star is going out too? Bummer...
  • "Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!"
    • 28 spam ACs posted in succession... distributed AC posting? That could make it painful to read at less than 1 (I usually read at -1).
  • It's a good thing Ford Prefect left home.

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