Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's actually going on with Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse and 2012
“The actual science in the original article is pretty good; they talked with scientist Brad Carter who discusses the scenario of Betelgeuse going supernova. The whole story is pretty interesting — I wrote about it in detail the last time there was nonsense about Betelgeuse blowing up — but in a nutshell Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star in Orion with about 20 times the mass of the Sun, and it’s very near the end of its life. When stars this massive die, they explode as supernovae. The distance to Betelgeuse is unclear (it has a very puffy outer atmosphere which makes distance determination somewhat dicey) but it’s something like a bit more than 600 light years, way way too far away to hurt us.

“It’s the question of when that the two articles [the & Huffington Post articles] go off the rails. Betelgeuse may explode tomorrow night, or it may not go kerblooie until the year 100,000 A.D. We don’t know. But given that huge range, the odds of it blowing up next year are pretty slim. And clearly, the original article was really trying to tie in the 2012 date to this, even when it has nothing to do with anything. The tie-in was a rickety link to scuttlebutt on the web about it, but that’s about it.”

If you’ve read the original Australian article (from a news source that is apparently the Aussie version of Fox News) &/or the mentioned Huffington Post article, you should probably read this one. We’re not going to die; Betelgeuse could go now or way later, & we’re not going to get a Tatooine twin sun effect. Also, try to spread it around, to counteract the false science being spread around all over the place, even on "serious" news outlets. It's really pretty pathetic when you think about it.

(Four days till spring semester. :((((((((( )

No comments: