This indistinct blob is supermassive star Betelgeuse


Originally published at:


##Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!


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


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


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.



Why does it have a bright spot and bulges?




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


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.


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.


Won’t anyone think of the alchildriens?


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.


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?


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?


The light of sarcasm?


Yeah, they forgot to use face powder.


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


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.