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Cosmic chatter: Is Betelgeuse, the red giant star, set to explode? – RNZ

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One of the most recognisable stars in the sky is starting to look very different – and it’s got the astronomy world talking.

Betelgeuse is a red giant star in the constellation Orion, one of the most familiar constellations in the night sky.
Photo: Twitter / AstroPixels.com

The star, named Betelgeuse, has dimmed its brightness so significantly that you can see the difference with the naked eye.

There’s been speculation that this dimming means Betelgeuse will turn into a supernova, which has some astronomy fans excited.

But is that really what’s happening up there?

Betel-what?

Betelgeuse is a red giant star in the constellation Orion, one of the most familiar constellations in the night sky.

Pronounced “beetlejuice”, the star is roughly 10 times bigger than our Sun in mass.

Associate Professor Michael Brown from Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy said over the past few months Betelgeuse has faded in brightness, which makes the entire constellation look a bit odd.

“Because Orion is such a familiar constellation to astronomers, be they professionals or amateurs, it just looks weird right now with Betelgeuse, which is normally a really bright red star, being noticeably fainter than usual,” he said.

“The fact that it’s become so faint compared to normal has really got people’s attention.”

Macquarie University Astrophysicist and science communicator Angel Lopez-Sanchez said if Betelgeuse does explode, it will be visible during the day and could take months to fade.

“Social media has again played a role here with the ‘hype’ of the brightness of Betelgeuse,” Dr Lopez-Sanchez says.

“But people have been talking about that and many of them would love to see Betelgeuse explode – I do not.”

Is the dimming of Betelgeuse a rare event?

Dr Brown, who is also the outreach coordinator for the Astronomical Society of Australia, said this could be the darkest we’ll see Betelgeuse in our lifetime – but that doesn’t necessarily make it rare.

“It’s unusual for us to see Betelgeuse this faint, but red giant stars are quite variable and Betelgeuse doing this isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary over the scale of many thousands of years,” he said.

Lopez-Sanchez said it is well-documented that Betelgeuse is a variable star, meaning it changes brightness periodically.

“As it has done plenty of times in the past, Betelgeuse will eventually gain brightness again and all will be back to usual,” he explained.

“The dimming of the brightness is the typical behaviour of the star.

“It is periodically changing its brightness and it has had this ‘low’ brightness in the past. Even Aboriginal Australians knew this star changed brightness.”

So will it explode?

Well, yes – but it’s highly unlikely any of us will be around to see it.

Many astronomers are confident that Betelgeuse will go supernova at some point, but it’s more likely to happen tens of thousands of years from now.

Lopez-Sanchez said it is very unlikely we will see the star explode, with recent research indicating the star still has about 100,000 years of life left in it.

“That is almost nothing in the cosmic scale, but a lot for us,” he says.

“If Betelgeuse really explodes as a supernova, this would be a great opportunity for us to study how massive stars explode and get a better understanding of stellar evolution and stellar interiors.”

According to Brown, the majority of astronomers agree it is probably just part of a natural cycle.

“Odds are, this (dimming) is not the precursor to the supernova explosion – although that doesn’t stop us having a look occasionally to make sure it’s still there, faint and red rather than this bright explosion,” he said.

Even if Betelgeuse did go supernova, we won’t see the light show instantly.

The star is roughly 700 light years away, so what we see in the sky now actually occurred several hundred years in the past.

“We see Betelgeuse now as it was about 700 years ago, so it’s possible that Betelgeuse went supernova 500 years ago, and we wouldn’t know about it for another two centuries,” Brown said.

“In astronomer terms and in terms of the age of the universe, yes, Betelgeuse will go supernova ‘soon’. In terms of our lifetimes, unfortunately, we’re probably going to miss out on seeing Betelgeuse go supernova, which is sort of a pity because it would be quite a show.”

– ABC

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Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time – Engadget

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Neutrino detection in INFN Gran Sasso Laboratories' facility


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Researchers have effectively confirmed one of the most important theories in star physics. NBC News reports that a team at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics has detected neutrinos traced back to star fusion for the first time. The scientists determined that the elusive particles passing through its Borexino detector stemmed from a carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) fusion process at the heart of the Sun.

This kind of behavior had been predicted in 1938, but hadn’t been verified until now despite scientists detecting neutrinos in 1956. Borexino’s design was crucial to overcoming that hurdle — its “onion-like” construction and ongoing refinements make it both ultra-sensitive and resistant to unwanted cosmic radiation.

It’s a somewhat surprising discovery, too. CNO fusion is much more common in larger, hotter stars. A smaller celestial body like the Sun only produces 1 percent of its energy through that process. This not only confirms that CNO is a driving force behind bigger stars, but the universe at large.

That, in turn, might help explain some dark matter, where neutrinos could play a significant role. Scientist Orebi Gann, who wasn’t involved in these findings, also told NBC that an asymmetry between neutrinos and their relevant antiparticles might explain why there isn’t much known antimatter in the universe. To put it another way, the findings could help answer some of the most basic questions about the cosmos.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Johnny Fresco closed after employee tests positive – KitchenerToday.com

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A staff member at Johnny Fresco’s has tested positive for COVID-19, leading the restaurant to temporarily close its doors.

According to their Facebook post, the Waterloo restaurant was closed as of Tuesday for the safety of their customers and staff.

The affected employee was last in the restaurant during the lunch shift on Friday.

They say they will be following the guidance of Public Health, and thank the community for their support throughout the years and during this difficult time under the pandemic.

They will post an update to Facebook and Instagram once they feel its safe to reopen.

Johnny Fresco To our Friends and Customers, We are sad to announce that Johnny Fresco will be temporarily closed…

Posted by Johnny Fresco’s on Wednesday, 25 November 2020

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Calgary man captures photo of SpaceX Dragon docked at the International Space Station – Calgary Herald

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When Shafqat Zaman takes photos of the International Space Station (ISS) from Calgary, it may help that he’s about 1 kilometre closer than photographers shooting from sea level.

However, the ISS is still about 399 kilometres away, and moving at a speed of about 7.66 kilometres per second relative to the ground. However you measure it, snapping a shot of the orbiting laboratory is an incredible feat.

Zaman captured this shot on Wednesday evening. It features a clear view of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which lifted off on Nov. 15 and docked with the station about 27 hours later. It’s the white cone-shaped object on the left side, near the middle.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is the bright white cone on the left of the ISS. Photo by Shafqat Zaman /Submitted

This wasn’t his first snapshot of the most expensive object ever constructed. Zaman captured several images of the ISS showing different angles as it passed overhead in late September.

A series of 3 images of the ISS taken as it passed over Calgary in September 2020. Photo by Shafqat Zaman /Submitted

He also captured this stunning transit of the ISS in front of the sun.

A series of shots of the ISS passing in front of the sun. Photo by Shafqat Zaman /Submitted

Zaman said he uses an 8″ Meade SCT telescope with a Canon M5 camera.

Zaman’s telescope. Photo by Shafqat Zaman

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