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Massive Star Betelgeuse Isn’t Ready To Explode, Yet

Supergiant star Betelgeuse, in the Orion constellation.
Supergiant star Betelgeuse, in the Orion constellation.
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One of the most well-known stars in the galaxy is safe -- for now.

The star Betelgeuse is popular among amateur astronomers for being one of the largest, easiest, and most remarkable stars to spot. In fact, you can see it any night that it’s clear. To spot Betelgeuse, look for a bright reddish star in the constellation Orion, roughly where the left shoulder would be.

But starting late last year, astronomers started to observe Betelgeuse dimming with no explanation. For those who look at the constellation often, it can look like Orion’s missing an arm. Astronomers began to predict that Betelgeuse’s lifespan was coming to an end.

For the last few weeks, the light coming from Betelgeuse has been the dimmest it’s ever been in our lifetimes, a sign the star could be nearing the end of its lifetime. But yesterday, the star began to brighten once again, which indicates that we’ll be able to look up at that bright reddish star a little longer.

With guest host John Rabe


Luisa Rebull, research scientist at CalTech; whose research focuses on stars in the Galaxy