This indistinct blob is supermassive star Betelgeuse


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/26/this-indistinct-blob-is-superm.html


#2

##Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!


#3

Dude, don’t say that aloud; having a supermassive star suddenly show up behind you would like, you know, destroy the earth.


#4

How processed is this image? Can we really see a star as a disk instead of just a point from 600 light years away?


#5

This and Eta Carinae are two stars I really hope blow up while I’m still around. Both are bound to be pretty spectacular (though I will be sad when the current Homunculus Nebula around Eta Carinae gets obliterated), while still being far enough away to be safe to watch.


#6

https://what-if.xkcd.com/151/


#7

Why does it have a bright spot and bulges?


#8


#9


#10

Now, how am I supposed to return to working after reading something like that?


#11

Betelgeuse was the first star optically imaged as a disk rather than just as a point. It’s been so minutely studied that they have even calculated its axis inclination. A few others have been seen directly through telescopes as disks rather than as points, but not many.


#12

I liked XKCD’s point that a star going supernova at 1AU would put as much energy on you as one trillion hydrogen bombs exploding in your face.


#13

Won’t anyone think of the alchildriens?


#14

The bright spot is where it’s reflecting light, for example, from an overhead spotlight or bare light bulb. Realistically, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array should have used a more diffused light source so there’s no glare.

As far as the bulges are concerned… I don’t want to point any fingers (cough ALMA cough), but clearly it’s been dropped on the floor a few times.


#15

So, when you say, “on the verge of becoming a supernova,” does “on the verge” mean months, or centuries? Trying to figure out how quickly I need to set up a telescope and camera.

Also: As massive as Betelgeuse is, does anyone know the odds of it forming a black hole when it collapses?


#16

Reflecting light from what? It’s a huge friggin fireball light years away from any other huge friggin fireball. It’s not sitting there under a lamp, like in the picture you posted. What light could possibly be reflecting off it?


#17

The light of sarcasm?


#18

Yeah, they forgot to use face powder.


#19

Now I’m craving fried eggs for breakfast. Well done, BB Subliminal Advertising Department.


#20

That was back in 1975, IIRC. Great was the excitement.
UPDATE: The 1975 images were reconstructed from interferometry to cancel out the intervening optics of the Earth’s atmosphere – superimposing lots of scattered images – so perhaps not “optically imaged”.
The reconstructions got way better in 1985. Then the Hubble telescope took the first direct image in 1995.