March 24, 2019

September 2009:News & Notes.

Is Betelgeuse shrinking? Everyone’s favorite candidate for a nearby supernova has been exhibiting some alarming behavior as of late. The red giant star Betelgeuse, located in the shoulder of Orion, has decreased in size by 15 percent since 1993, equating to a loss of 1% of diameter per year. The finding comes from monitoring conducted by researchers at the University of Berkeley using the Infrared Spatial Interferometer atop Mount Wilson. This shrinkage is all the more stupefying when one considers that recent research places Betelgeuse at a distance of 640 light years, making this bloated star over 5 astronomical units in diameter! AAVSO volunteers that have been monitoring the star have noted that the shrinkage has not been accompanied by a magnitude drop. [Read more...]