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Re: Bye-bye, Betelgeuse?

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  • Mike B
    In terms of stars lives, this process could take the next 10 or 20 thousand years, too! Mike B
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 13, 2009
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      In terms of stars' lives, this process could take the next 10 or 20 thousand years, too!

      Mike B

      --- In sciencefictionclassics@yahoogroups.com, derhexer@... wrote:
      > URL to an article in Fox News from Science
      > _http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525695,00.html_
      > (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525695,00.html)
      > I'll miss Betelgeuse (sob). I always knew that I had to make a left turn
      > at Betelgeuse when I was on my way to Terminus, otherwise I'd end up at
      > Ringworld
      > First few paragraphs
      > "
      > The nearby, well-known and very bright star may soon explode in a
      > supernova, according to data released by U.C. Berkeley researchers Tuesday.
      > The red giant Betelgeuse, once so large it would reach out to Jupiter's
      > orbit if placed in our own solar system, has shrunk by 15 percent over the
      > past decade in a half, although it's just as bright as it's ever been.
      > "To see this change is very striking," said retired Berkeley physics
      > professor Charles Townes, who won the 1964 Nobel Prize for inventing the laser.
      > "We will be watching it carefully over the next few years to see if it will
      > keep contracting or will go back up in size."
      > Betelgeuse, whose name derives from Arabic, is easily visible in the
      > constellation Orion. It gave Michael Keaton's character his name in the movie
      > "Beetlejuice" and was the home system of Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox
      > in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
      > Red giant stars are thought to have short, complicated and violent
      > lifespans. Lasting at most a few million years, they quickly burn out their
      > hydrogen fuel and then switch to helium, carbon and other elements in a series of
      > partial collapses, refuelings and restarts.
      > Betelgeuse, which is thought to be reaching the end of its lifespan, may
      > be experiencing one of those collapses as it switches from one element to
      > another as nuclear-fusion fuel.
      > "We do not know why the star is shrinking," said Townes' Berkeley
      > colleague Edward Wishnow. "Considering all that we know about galaxies and the
      > distant universe, there are still lots of things we don't know about stars,
      > including what happens as red giants near the ends of their lives."
      > Eventually, the huge star may become a nesting doll of elements, with a
      > mixed iron-nickel core surrounded by onion-like layers of silicon, oxygen,
      > neon, carbon, helium and hydrogen.
      > As the iron fuel runs out, it may explode into a supernova, blasting newly
      > created elements out into the universe and leaving behind a small,
      > incredibly dense neutron star.
      > All the heavier elements in the universe â€" including all the oxygen,
      > carbon and iron in your own body â€" were created in such a way.
      > It's possible we're observing the beginning of Betelgeuse's final collapse
      > now.
      > If so, the star, which is 600 light-years away, will already have exploded
      > â€" and we'll soon be in for a spectacular, and perfectly safe, interstellar
      > fireworks show."
      > Chris
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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