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Space Science

Rumor of Betelgeuse's Death Greatly Exaggerated 356

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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  • I also heard... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:42PM (#32425136) Homepage
    ...on very good authority that, in two weeks, Mars will appears as big as the MOON in the night sky!!

    I swear I have assuage my Mom's fear about that one every year. I would just send her to Snopes. But the copious pop-under ads, malware, etc. makes me think I would be causing more problems that I would solve.... "No Mom. You cannot make win a free XBox by punching that monkey...". But I digress.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by volsung ( 378 ) <stan@mtrr.org> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:32PM (#32425676)
    Super-Kamiokande would light up like Christmas from a supernova only 600 light years from Earth. (Hopefully they still have a trigger configured to save such data, despite being used now as a target for the T2K experiment.) Super-K is 10x larger than Kamiokande-II and Kamiokande-II was able to detect 11 events from a supernova that was 250x further away than Betelgeuse. Granted, not all supernova have the same intensity, but still, I think we'd have a pretty good view from here.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:34PM (#32425692) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if this supernova triggers the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster?

  • Re:ugh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:57PM (#32425884) Homepage

    > Why does it even need to be publicly debunked to this extent?

    I got the impression that "Bad Astronomer" had been receiving numerous emails about it.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dakameleon ( 1126377 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:05PM (#32425952)

    Did anyone ever work out what a Hrung was?

  • Short Story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:05PM (#32425954)

    Can't remember the author, but it goes like this:

    Amateur astronomers are out watching the sky for the rumored light from a star that had gone supernova thousands of years before. The supernova was predicted by astronomers as early as the middle ages. It was supposedly going to be very bright. Well, the sun rises early...or at least some brightly shining object. But one of the people corrects the questioner, stating that it is the hour of the moon's rising and it must be reflecting the light from the new star. Someone suggests that it seemed to be getting rather warm.

    Short of it is, this exploding star's light was several times more intense than even our Sun. In the short term it created massive weather effects -- tornados, typhoons, etc. But the air temperature in the first day of its arrival soared to over 200 degrees F - the oceans began to boil, it was unbearable to be outside. The people who survived until the first night -- when the air temperature dropped to somewhere over 130 F -- began pondering what life forms would carry on after this, because it wouldn't be humans.

    There was a similar something in the news last year -- light from an ancient supernova finally reaching Earth and it made me think of this story then too. Not sure what happened to that one.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:12PM (#32426022) Journal

    The rumour was it will occur in the next few weeks, similar to SN 1054 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SN_1054 [wikipedia.org]

    [quote]SN 1054 (Crab Supernova) was a supernova that was widely seen on Earth in the year 1054. It was recorded by Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, and Persian/Arab astronomers as being bright enough to see in daylight for 23 days and was visible in the night sky for 653 days.[1][2][3] The progenitor star was located in the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of 6,300 light years and exploded as a core-collapse supernova.[/quote]

  • Re:Ok, now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shag ( 3737 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:13PM (#32426032)

    Anyone with a good telescope available?!

    Depends what you consider "good." If you're thinking of something in the $199-$15,999 price range, with an aperture of 4-16 inches (which should be plenty for just looking at a nearby supernova, then the 16" Meade or one of the 14" Celestrons where I stargaze [hawaii.edu] should work.

    If, on the other hand, you're thinking more in the $3,000,000-$400,000,000 range, then I'd have to schlep all the way up to the general vicinity [hawaii.edu] of work [subarutelescope.org].

    But I'm relatively certain that even folks around work would be interested in looking at it. I think it'd be a Type II supernova, but I could ask if the Type Ia collaboration [lbl.gov] I'm in could look at it too... but unfortunately since it's pretty much up during the day this time of year, and "close to" the Sun in the sky, it'd be a hard target.

  • Re:Why is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:09PM (#32426404) Homepage

    Ever considered that it might not be the same people doing both?

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!