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Dying Star Betelgeuse Spews Fiery Nebula

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the lights-in-the-sky dept.

Space 574

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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How soon is soon? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557472)

Can we expect Betelgeuse to go supernova in our lifetimes?

Re:How soon is soon? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557546)

Well actually, it already happened years ago (thousands, millions?). So soon may already be in the past... depending on where we are at the time....

my monkey brain hurts

Re:How soon is soon? (3, Informative)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557614)

Well actually, it already happened years ago (thousands, millions?). So soon may already be in the past... depending on where we are at the time....

my monkey brain hurts

Do you not realize that Betelgeuse is only 640 light-years away? I.e., if it went supernova more than 640 years ago, we would know? Monkey brain indeed.

Re:How soon is soon? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558150)

Because material travels faster than light??

Re:How soon is soon? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558334)

... you are aware that supernovas give off... how shall I put this delicately... a massive fuckton of light, right?

Re:How soon is soon? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557630)

When will then be now?

Re:How soon is soon? (3, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557964)

In the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional tense, yes it would, but in the present tense (on-book haventa forewhen presooning returningwenta retrohome) its a toss up.

Re:How soon is soon? (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558026)

Soon.

Re:How soon is soon? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557660)

According to Wikipedia it's about 640 light years away so that's the maximum delay before we see it die.

It also says "Betelgeuse is expected to explode as a type II supernova, possibly within the next million years" so it doesn't seem to have happened yet.

Re:How soon is soon? (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557804)

It generally makes more sense to think about the timing of individual events in terms of when the event's light cone gets to us. Granted, Betelgeuse is in a similar reference frame to us, but that doesn't change the fact that there's no such thing as simultaneity at astronomical scales. The exact time it happened relative to earth isn't the same time it happened relative to somewhere else, and even the apparent time on Earth would be different if measured by an observer moving in one direction or another relative to Earth.

Re:How soon is soon? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558154)

Wait, what century is this?

Damn it! It's not the fall of the second American Empire but the first. Gonna totally have to re-write my term paper now!

Re:How soon is soon? (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558258)

According to Wikipedia it's about 640 light years away so that's the maximum delay before we see it die.

I'd argue that the star hasn't died yet until the information about its demise could theoretically have reached the observer.

There isn't such thing as a universe time on which events can be noted to have happened. Time is always a local phenomenon.
If you were to travel with the photons from Betelguese to Earth (impossible as it is), your journey would take 640 years from the point of view of someone infinitely far away with an infinitely powerful telescope, but from your point of view, it would not - the explosion just happened for you.

Re:How soon is soon? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558504)

"Next millon years"... and how much considering that now reached the stage that we are seeing now? No matter if have been 640 years ago, the problem is when we will see it, considering what are we seeing right now.

Re:How soon is soon? (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557592)

If so, then it has already gone supernova. But, no one can yet provide a realistic guess as to when it will self-terminate.

Re:How soon is soon? (5, Insightful)

jfmiller (119037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558004)

Let's rephrase the question then: Can we expect to observe Betelgeuse going supernove in our lifetimes?

Awesome (0, Troll)

mistiry (1845474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557486)

I'm amazed that humans are able to see extra-terrestrial events with such detail.

What's even crazier is that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans.

Oh, and, maybe...first post?

Re:Awesome (1)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557758)

I'm amazed that humans are able to see extra-terrestrial events with such detail.

What's even crazier is that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans.

Oh, and, maybe...first post?

I truly hate this statement. We DO NOT understand outer space more than our oceans.

We don't understand outer space enough to ask the proper questions. People are making assumptions that planets outside of our solar system are composed of 118 elements, and that is all. (Just another hunk of rock/gas)... This is a dumb assumption to make.

Our oceans are finite, so there are a finite number of questions to ask. Space, to our understanding, is infinite. Therefore, we will never understand outer space as well as we can know our own oceans.

Re:Awesome (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558084)

isn't the point that we DO know more about outer space than we do about our oceans (in terms of raw data available)

NOT

that we WILL know more about outer space than we can ever about our oceans at some unspecified point in the future as your argument concludes.

while your conclusion is probably correct it doesn't relate to the original statement.

Re:Awesome (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558194)

People are making assumptions that planets outside of our solar system are composed of 118 elements, and that is all. This is a dumb assumption to make.

May I ask why it is a dumb assumption to make, that everything existing is composed of the matter we know? Many elements (like gold) are made in events like these: supernovas, as normal stellar fusion allows only elements up to iron to be synthesized within stars.

What do you suggest anything else is made of? Antimatter? Why? It's not impossible, but very improbable and on top of that it wouldn't change all that much except we'd better never get into direct contact with such material.

Also keep in mind that from the scientific point of view, anything we cannot observe is indistinguishable from not existing. That doesn't mean that unobservable object/thing/essence/whatever doesn't exist, but it makes no scientific sense to talk about it. If the object/thing/essence/whatever finally is observed, then we can talk. Our Universe is defined by what we can observe. So if there is something that is so far away that it hasn't reached us yet by electromagnetic radiation (basically, "what we can observe"), it doesn't exist in our universe.

Re:Awesome (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558268)

Since we know what the Stars are made from mainly Hydrogen gas, we can make a good guess that the planets going around those star will be made of since all the planet in our solar system is made of them. If you only see one thing out there in space its unique but you see two then a good chance it something common, that goes for stars, planets and the rest.

Re:Awesome (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557818)

I'm amazed that humans are able to see extra-terrestrial events with such detail.

Ah, that's where you're mistaken. You have to read the article carefully. It says that the ESO astronomers are "comprised of silica and alumina dust." They're not human at all!

Re:Awesome (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558062)

What's even crazier is that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans.

How is knowledge quantified here?

Re:Awesome (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558488)

Ignore, it's another one of those stupid new age hippie bullshit statements.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558558)

What's even crazier is that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans.
 
Just about anyone with the interest and a few thousand dollars can sit and observe the cosmos for hours a day. Can you say that about the oceans? More people have seen the stars than the ocean. It's more accessable and it's cheaper too. And that's not to even begin to touch on needed tons of equipment to be able to see more than a few feet deep or a few yards off the shore of an ocean.
 
What I find crazy is people who never thought about why we know more about the stars.

I've got mixed feelings (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#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!

Re:I've got mixed feelings (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558006)

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:I've got mixed feelings (1, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558214)

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.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/ce/Orionurania.jpg [wikimedia.org]

riiiight

that's what the ancients were thinking?

riiight

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557526)

WTF is a hrung and why should it choose to collapse on Betelgeuse?

Re:Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557936)

-1 too nerdy reference for slashdot

Old news (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557568)

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

Re:Old news (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557644)

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!

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557738)

This happened 640 years ago.

Maybe they just released a Special Edition of the movie on BluRay?

Re:Old news (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557844)

Oh, come on. Michael Keaton can't be that old!

Re:Old news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557870)

640 years ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:Old news (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557928)

No, this is just the re-post.

What? (5, Funny)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:What? (1, Informative)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557744)

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

Re:What? (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557794)

Excuses can't save a bad sentence,

Re:What? (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557974)

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? (5, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558140)

For the love of KHHHAAANNN are you an english teacher?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557790)

Well, we've been communicating with intelligent extra-terrestrial entities for quite a few years now, but you haven't seen headlines about extra-terrestrial "life", because these creatures are comprised of inorganic chemicals. Ho hum.

Re:What? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558038)

Well, yes! That should be obvious.

Re:What? (1)

bitfarmer (219431) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558110)

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.

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557602)

Man, I know that Slashdot tends to put up articles weeks or months after the event has happened, but this is ridiculous. This happened millions of years ago. You guys are really slipping.

Re:Old News (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557710)

Um, it's 640 light years away...

Re:Old News (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558048)

Yeah, but the AC has an extra-laggy connection.

Re:Old News (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558160)

Congrats, the Universe is much smaller than you think it is.

That's a really rare condition...

Bioexorcist (2)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557632)

Once it's gone, if you call its name three times it'll pop right back!

3 times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36557636)

Just don't say its name 3 times, otherwise the fucker will show up in your backyard and make all of your mother's terrible sculptures rape you.

Worried (1)

lightbox32 (1903946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557772)

What will this mean to Ford Prefect's home planet?

Re:Worried (3, Interesting)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557852)

Good News: they won't panic, as they're hoopy froods who know where their towels are.
Bad News: Earth has the largest supply of towels in 1000 light-years, so we can expect an invasion any day.

Re:Worried (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558524)

That is only for Hitchhikers. Hopefully most of them have pearl sensitive sunglasses so when they get vaporized they will have a relaxed last few minutes towards it... In the dark...

Re:Worried (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557960)

Not all that much - it was already basically wiped out by the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster.

Poor Mr. Prefect (0)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36557996)

Can anyone confirm if Ford was able to hitchhike out in time?

Re:Poor Mr. Prefect (0)

Suffering Bastard (194752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558088)

Looks like I can't type faster than the speed of bad jokes. I guess I'll just go back to sucking cocks.

Re:Poor Mr. Prefect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558186)

Yes he survived, but whelk had no chance.

Orion (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558030)

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.

Re:Orion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558130)

You tried so hard. Too hard.

Betelgeuse...what's in a name (1)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558108)

Am I the only one who also read that as Beetlejuice? Man, first that show, and now this star is going out too? Bummer...

Re:Betelgeuse...what's in a name (2)

devjoe (88696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558722)

The similarity is intentional. The name of the film was based on one possible pronunciation of the name of the star.

you fail iT (-1)

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Gon3 Romeo and Kreskin

YUO fAIL IT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558284)

we get there 3ith there are

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profits without the systhem clean

fuCk?! (-1)

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troolkore (-1)

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Poor prioriti>es,

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Tu3g1rl (-1)

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DON'T BE A SLING conversations where it was fun. If I'm as it is licensed FREEBSD cONTINUES a BSD box (a PIII Both believed that

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volume of Ne7BSD with process and

tro7Sl (-1)

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mo3 Up (-1)

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minus 2, Tr0ll) (-1)

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COCK (-1)

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niggA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36558560)

revel in our g4y in our group the top. Or were, guest and never get

We can always bring it back: (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558568)

"Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!"

And OT: (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36558664)

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).

Fir5t! (-1)

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As one of the 3iseases. bThe

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not so 3ad. To the
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