"Digitized Sky Survey Image of Betelgeuse" by ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2 / CC BY 4.0

Betelgeuse Isn’t Exploding: Mysterious Dimming Turns Out to Be Giant Dust Sneeze

Mar 9, 2020

By Michelle Starr

The official verdict is in. As the red supergiant Betelgeuse once again returns to normal brightness levels, astronomers have taken the star’s temperature to identify the cause of its recent dimming.

It turns out the star wasn’t fluctuating internally; rather, Betelgeuse sneezed out a huge cloud of dust, which obscured its light for a while.

This means that the star isn’t, as some had hoped, about to go supernova; in fact, it’s a pretty well-understood event for a star of Betelgeuse’s advanced age.

“We see this all the time in red supergiants, and it’s a normal part of their life cycle,” said astronomer Emily Levesque of the University of Washington.

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