Friday, August 7, 2009

Sounds a lot like Beetle Juice

Betelgeuse photo NASA, Orion photo The Hundred Greatest Stars, by James B. Kaler

This is the star Betelgeuse it’s about 640 light years away. That is, the light we see from this star takes 640 years to reach the earth. Betelgeuse started life as hot, blue, class O star only around 10 million years ago, which makes it much younger then our Sun. Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in the constellation of Orion and is the eleventh brightest star in the sky.

This star is an ancient massive red giant and is so large that if placed in our solar system in would engulf Earth, Mars and the inner planets half way out to Jupiter. Betelgeuse is surrounded by a huge complex pattern of nested dust and gas shells, the result of eons of mass loss. Clearly a highly evolved star, Betelgeuse has burned all of its hydrogen fuel supply. Betelgeuse will fuse together its remaining elements collapsing the core and causing the star to blow up as a supernova sometime in the next 10 to 1000 years. If it were to explode today, Betelgeuse would shine as bright as the Moon, would be seen in daytime sky, and would cast shadows on the ground. What other effects would the earth experience from such an explosion?

Find out with these books.

The Hundred Greatest Stars, by James B. Kaler

The Stars of Heaven, by Clifford A. Pickover

Death from the skies! : these are the ways the world will end, by Philip Plait

Cosmic Catastrophes: Supernovae, Gamma-Ray Bursts, and Adventures in Hyperspace, by J. Craig Wheeler

What If the Moon Didn't Exist? : Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been, by Neil F. Comins

The Origins of the Future: Ten Questions for the Next Ten Years, by John Gribbin

See also

STARS a comprehensive suite of pages that tell the stories of stars and their constellations.


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