There has been a buzz around that some star is going to explode soon!! But when we don’t know. Let’s understand what is it really. Is it really going to explode?? How it will explode?? And importantly when it will explode?? Let’s start understanding it. You must have seen a electric bulb flickering when it is going to end it’s “life”. If you have observed carefully then it seems that it glows brightest before going in dimming. It flickers constantly for some time period and then it goes off. The same analogy can be seen in candle or diya. It flickers very brightly and when it’s “oil” gets finished the diya gets off. A star is nothing but the HUGE Diya seen glowing in the dark sky. But it’s fuel is not the oil or any electricity but many gases!! Or we can say star is a giant gas ball. The gases are dangerous hydrogen, helium etc. Our sun is also a “common” star like us the common people. Yes, sun is a very “common” star as compared to other “uncommon” stars. (But I personally feel our sun is uncommon because it has earth around it and intelligent beings living on it.). There are millions billions of stars in our universe. It’s may not be exaggeration to say that the universe has stars equivalent to the sand grains on earth. Our sun is one among them. Hence to recognise them we have made “group” of some stars which may make some geometrical patterns. Or it may depicting some animals, or some features related to our daily life. Now in the case of a star we are talking about is coming from the very popular group of star. A group of star is called as Constellation. And the star we are discussing is of group called Orion! In Indian mythology it is called as Mrug Nakshatra. Mrug means a deer. And in Greek mythology Orion is depicted as a human who is a great Hunter! You might have seen “Saptarshi” in your childhood or may have heard of it.
Coming back to topic, the Orion, the star in it is named as Betelgeuse!! In Indian mythology it is named as Kaakshi! It is one of the shoulder of Orion. This hunter has one truncheon or stick on his hand above this Betelgeuse and other hand has a shield. This hunter is in defending position to protect him from the charging bull, the Taurus. Yes, the same Taurus from zodiac signs. All these zodiac signs are nothing but the groups of these stars above our head. Betelgeuse is a very very bright star in Orion constellation. It’s is at 420 light years away from us. Means light from this star will take 420 years to reach us!!! It also means when we see Betelgeuse then we are looking the 420 years old ligh from it. Means we are looking at the history of this star!!! The same applies for every star or galaxy we see up there.
What made Betelgeuse “uncommon”??? Well we see many celebrities around us like a Star or Superstar. Similarly there are some stars which are Superstar! They have very different “life” than that of “common” stars. Betelgeuse is a RED SUPERGIANT star. Betelgeuse is very bigger (around 760 times) in size as compared to our sun. If we would like to compare them place a football beside a ball bearing. After explosion, Betelgeuse will be converted into Neutron star and it will have very high densities compared to our sun (1 gram will weigh around 1 ton). It is very much (16 times) heavier than that of our sun.
So, practically speaking, there are many stars which are of type SUPERGIANT and red in colour. These types of stars die very dramatically. Once their fuel gets finished, they gets bigger and bigger in size like an inflating balloon. Then a stage reaches where they EXPLODE like a fire cracker. This type of explosion is called as Supernova explosion. But to happen this it has a very long complex process. Simply saying when a star stars emitting light at that time only hydrogen burning is in process. Then as time goes, it converts the hydrogen into helium, then oxygen, then sillicon, then carbon and finally iron. Currently Betelgeuse is in helium process. So we cannot firmly say that Betelgeuse will explode soon. The variation in luminosity of Betelgeuse is drastically changing from 2019. Now it is 50% brighter than its normal luminosity. As per our knowledge or current understanding about lifecycle of star, it probably will take few thousands of years from now. But we don’t know if it explodes soon then we might learn something new about star’s lifecycle. All astronomer around the globe are eagerly waiting and hoping to see such spectacle to happen soon atleast once in lifetime. Btw, our ancestors have seen such explosion in history. There was a star in constellation Cassiopeia (Sharmistha) which exploded and was observed in 1572 AD. Tycho Brahe, an eminent astronomer at that time observed this event and made notes on it. It was so bright that it was visible during daytime also!!! Means if we are lucky enough to see this big boom from Betelgeuse then we might see it in daytime as well!!!
There are many mythological stories woven around this Orion or Mriga. There are Indian, Greek, Babylon, Chinese stories which describes about this popular constellation.
So, concluding, being curious like a child, we are hopeful and eager to see this SUPERGIANT stellar performance!!!
©️ Ambarish Pawar
#Astronomy #Betelgeuse #supernova #supergiant #Orion #constellation #cosmos