Supernova event called off- Betelgeuse won’t explode – at least not right away

Call off the supernova watch. The red supergiant star known as Betelgeuse isn’t going to explode in a supernova after all. (Though it will at sometime in the future up to 100,000 years from now.)

Betelgeuse compared to our solar system

A couple of weeks ago we reported:

For months, astronomers have been keeping a wary eye on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder. What’s attracting their attention? All of a sudden, Betelgeuse isn’t bright anymore. Its visible luminosity has “fallen off a cliff”–a sign that the star could be on the verge of going supernova.

If Betelegeuse starts to bounce back on Feb. 21st, this whole episode might just be a deeper-than-average pulsation, and perhaps the supernova watch can be called off.

New readings indicate that Betelgeuse is in fact, brightening again.

Researchers from Villanova University, who have been leading the study of Betelegeuse’s unprecedented decline, have confirmed in a new Astronomical Telegram that the star has reversed itself.

The turnaround was actually predicted, and suggests the recent dimming was an unusually deep excursion of the star’s natural 430-day periodicity.


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February 22, 2020 9:43 pm

Very disappointing. Greta Thunberg will be distraught.

Reply to  Eric McCoo
February 23, 2020 1:35 am

How dare you ! You don’t understand “the science” works. It’s just like Arctic sea ice. All you do is ignore all the years of detailed daily information you have and reduce everything to a single scalar quantity: a linear trend.

You can then claim that the decline is “continuing” even as the data shows a strong and consistent reversal. You can play this game until the trend for the entire record returns to zero, which probably gives you another 40 years of propaganda headlines before you need to invent a new analysis.

So the correct interpretation is that Betelgeuse continues to get dimmer and the expected supernova is imminent, unless we reduce our “carbon” emissions to zero in the next 12 years.

Reply to  Greg
February 23, 2020 11:25 am

The rate of decline has simply slowed. It is now declining at a negative rate.
If you turn the graph upside down, you’ll see that it is even worse than we thought.

Reply to  jtom
February 23, 2020 4:23 pm

“declining at a negative rate” – Now that sounds ominous, very ominous.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  DaveW
February 23, 2020 5:44 pm

It isn’t retreating, it’s advancing in a different direction.

Reply to  Eric McCoo
February 23, 2020 5:18 am

Grumpy Greta is heading for Bristol, UK, to support kids’ school strike (post-normal education) on Friday.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 5:34 am

“(post-normal education)”

That’s a good way to put it.

Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 10:37 am

Phew! Won’t be in town that day! Bristol traffic is nightmare at the best of times, the last thing we need is a pilgramage of idiots. Plus, I won’t have to compulsory-purchase sackcloth and ashes fo the day or watch the lunacy on the fawning local news.

Reply to  Eric McCoo
February 23, 2020 10:11 am

Oh the convergence of perusals of two web sites. Perhaps the “Tale of Two Sites”. For those who enjoy Edgar Allen Poe I link the following.
Quoth the Raving: ‘How Dare You?’

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  RetiredEE
February 23, 2020 7:39 pm

Great link, thanks RetiredEE!

Reply to  Eric McCoo
February 23, 2020 5:03 pm

I blame Vlad Putin

Reply to  Eric McCoo
February 24, 2020 8:09 am

No no Global Warming is to blame, so it would have supported her. On the other hand, Leftists blame everything on Global Warming, so you’re right: that’s why no supernova. Oh, and Trump!

Gary Pearse
February 22, 2020 9:49 pm

It’s like predicting climate change, only in astronomy they could be a few hundred million years off.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 22, 2020 11:10 pm

Catastrophic global warming may be “a few hundred million years off” too. Or a few billion.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
February 22, 2020 11:32 pm

A safer prediction is Catastrophic Global Cooling (CGC) as we fall out of the current interglacial into the next glaciation.

Reply to  commieBob
February 23, 2020 1:43 am

Practically 100%. Before Greenland melts, too.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 23, 2020 6:55 am

And it has already happened.

J Mac
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 23, 2020 11:49 am

Whew! That was close! Did Betelgeuse just get a12 year reprieve, before the existential threat of ‘catastrophic climate change’ threatens again?

February 22, 2020 9:50 pm

Betelgeuse is huffing and puffing, and sooner or later it will go boom. It is just a matter of time, but making a prediction about the future is tricky business. We probably don’t understand enough of these dynamics yet to accurately understand which part of the cycle it will go supernova. Perhaps as it is brightening is when it goes pop, but we haven’t seen enough of them in our galaxy close up enough to understand it completely. It is my fav part of the sky whether I am way up north or near the equator. Would sure be a treat to witness it real time. Why do the neutrino’s arrive 3 hours earlier than the visible? Is it because of gravitational lensing causing the light to take a bit longer path, and the neutrinos take a direct route?

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Earthling2
February 22, 2020 11:12 pm

gravitational lensing affects the path of neutrinos and photons equally. Lensing is a curvature of space-time predicted by Einstein’s theory of GR.

The delay is that photons are slowed passing though the star’s radiative zone before reaching a near vacuum space for the next 460 lyears, while neutrinos pass through all matter with very little interaction.

Reply to  Earthling2
February 22, 2020 11:41 pm

It won’t be real time! It’s a fair few light years away.

Reply to  Phoenix44
February 23, 2020 5:09 am

Real time is sort of meaningless in this regard. Wouldn’t it be real time for us as we witness the light of the supernova arrive? Time and space are wrapped up as one like a fabric and aren’t two separate things, hence called space-time. Betelgeuse is also orbiting the Milky Way so is no longer in the same location as we currently see it. It is kind of mind boggling contemplating all this as everything is a different distance away, but yet we see everything equally as it was, irrespective of distance and everything has moved on before we see it. It is all sort of a grand illusion. But you need to have had a half dozen scotch whiskey to realize this.

Reply to  Earthling2
February 23, 2020 7:17 am

“Wouldn’t it be real time for us as we witness the light of the supernova arrive?”

Yes, it would be real time for us, which is all that matters. Real time for Betelgeusians ended a long, long time ago.

Reply to  Earthling2
February 23, 2020 10:10 am

Earthling2 says:
Real time is sort of meaningless in this regard

I agree, and am tired of all the references. Bottom line is, for us, trying to “imagine” what’s going on “now” (as opposed to ~700 yrs ago) is just that — pure imagination. Being 700 Lyrs away means we CANNOT POSSIBLY KNOW what happened there 700 yrs ago, we can only know what happens when we can see it. Information can’t travel faster than light, so saying “it could have already exploded” is meaningless at our location.

J Mac
Reply to  Phoenix44
February 23, 2020 12:11 pm

Physics “Reference frames…..”
Or, as the J. Geils Band explained it in ‘Freeze Frame’:
“Now I’m looking at a flash back Sunday,
Zoom lens feeling just won’t disappear!”

Bro. Steve
Reply to  Earthling2
February 23, 2020 5:25 am

If space-time is actually curved, then what IS the direct route?

Reply to  Bro. Steve
February 23, 2020 5:45 am

Jeopardy: What route would instantaneous quantum entanglement take?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Earthling2
February 23, 2020 6:21 am

High road, low road…it hardly matters.
I’ll still get to Scotland before ye!

February 22, 2020 9:52 pm

Worst and most disappointing supernova ever….

February 22, 2020 10:17 pm

But but unprecedented is always bad. Right?

Chris BC
February 22, 2020 10:33 pm

Betelgeuse Betelgeuse Betelgeuse …….

Reply to  Chris BC
February 22, 2020 11:31 pm

Carminic acid (C22H20O13) is beetle juice (:-))
also known as Carmine and Cohineal or by its E number E120, is a red food colouring

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Chris BC
February 23, 2020 6:07 am

Now you’ve done it!

Martin Howard Keith Brumby
February 22, 2020 11:58 pm

Worse than we thought.

CO2 gets everywhere.

Sceptical lefty
February 23, 2020 12:07 am

“Unprecedented” — no-one has noticed it before.
“Predicted” — every conceivable outcome (and one or two inconceivable ones) was predicted by someone, somewhere, so all bases are covered.
Yet another storm in a teacup.

February 23, 2020 1:19 am

New from Pierre-Marie Robitaille, Ph.D

Reply to  mwhite
February 23, 2020 5:12 am

Caveat lector. There are some nifty solar images in Robitaille’s video, but his explanations for them are highly speculative, much of his other work is very clearly & severely erroneous, and he’s definitely a fringe figure.

Reply to  Dave Burton
February 23, 2020 6:44 am

He may be wrong, but why is the sun a gas? What actual observqtional evidence is there for the sun being a gas?

Reply to  mwhite
February 23, 2020 2:06 pm

Spectral analysis shows that the sun is mostly hydrogen and helium is a plasma state.

February 23, 2020 1:49 am

Walking the dog a couple of nights back I was wondering why we weren’t seeing the supernova yet ! Thanks for the update.

The magnitude of the recent “reversal” does not seem to be statistically significant in view of the noise level in the record. Come back on 100 days and tell me what has happened. This “reversal” is just as speculative and impending supernova hype.

Unscientific click-bait.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Greg
February 23, 2020 5:51 am

“Come back on 100 days and tell me what has happened. This “reversal” is just as speculative and impending supernova hype.”

Good point.

February 23, 2020 2:01 am

Brightening again can still be a nova… lol.

The real question is color change. If it’s dust then the spectrum will change one way, if it’s Big Bada Betelboom then it will change another way.

If there’s no change then it’s Loki.

February 23, 2020 2:21 am

“The red supergiant star known as Betelgeuse isn’t going to explode in a supernova after all.”

Betelgeuse is 700 light years away. We really need some new tenses in English to describe things that are not going to have happened 700 years ago.

Reply to  FrankH
February 23, 2020 3:53 am

Plusquamperfekt !

Doug Huffman
Reply to  FrankH
February 23, 2020 4:32 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly! You should know the cost in learning our proper and complicated grammar that has not been taught for many years, generations even. English shares roots with Norse language and grammar, to the extent that the technical meanings of grammar predicates are familiar.

We need also to teach proper physics language to encompass time as fundamental and space as contingent and emergent. Time has existed eternally and will exist into the infinite. Do not mistake infinity.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Doug Huffman
February 23, 2020 6:34 am

The largest stars, when they explode, the word gravity hardy covers it.
It needs to be understood in terms of something far more dramatic…sounding.

Reply to  FrankH
February 23, 2020 4:37 pm

English has all these wonderful auxiliary verbs so we don’t need Fardles beare To grunt and sweat under a weary load of tenses.

“The red supergiant star known as Betelgeuse [hasn’t exploded] in a supernova after all.”

or if you want to mince around:

“The red supergiant star known as Betelgeuse [doesn’t seem to have exploded] in a supernova after all.”

mike macray
Reply to  FrankH
March 5, 2020 8:52 am

Ah! yes FrankH,
A grammatical inadequacy instead of the spectacle I was sooo looking forward to.

Mark Broderick
February 23, 2020 2:42 am

Hey Betelgeuse …..YOU’RE FIRED ! : )

February 23, 2020 3:40 am

I’m kind of glad about that. Magnificent as a supernova would be I would miss Betelgeuse in the Night Sky. Still Aldeberan in Taurus remains its glowering redness..

Reply to  London247
February 23, 2020 4:21 am

If it did explode, the gamma-ray burst that happened at 700 LY distance the impending radiation would be absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere with only a trace of isotopes eventually descending down to the ground level.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 4:35 am

Inverse square law for a point source at 700 ly is quite small. Remember that we know the approximate magnitude of the energies of a Ty II SN.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Vuk
February 23, 2020 6:27 am

But what if it just so happens we are directly in line with one of the poles of the star?
Unlikely yes, but I have not even seen any discussion of that scenario.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 6:30 am

We are talking biblical, man…scary chanting music and everything!

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 7:17 am

There are lot of them about and we are still here, this animation is showing the sky position of supernovae discovered since 1885
comment image

Reply to  London247
February 23, 2020 1:53 pm

I have a new name for the post-betelgeuse-supernova constellation when Oriom’s shoulder is gone.


February 23, 2020 3:51 am

Really I will be quite satisfied if that familiar shoulder of Orion is there to enjoy for the rest of my life time. I would be interested to witness a Supernova sometime elsewhere in the heavens but I value my old familiar star hopping landmarks in the night sky.

Reply to  rah
February 23, 2020 12:08 pm

I am with you on this. My comment above seems to have been hijacked by others.

michael hart
Reply to  rah
February 23, 2020 1:28 pm

You cross ’em, I’ll knock them in:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.</blockquote

February 23, 2020 4:38 am

Ok, so, aside from those that make these, “Predictions,” because their salaries rely on the grants that are provided by the information they provide, in the statements they make by the phenomena they pro-port to be facts which can neither be proven or dis-proven until they happen or don’t happen, does it really truly matter to anyone anywhere regarding life as it unfolds in real time right before our very eyes on a daily basis? I think not, I prefer to enjoy everyday as it happens in real time, and what’s going to happen is none of my business.
May all enjoy life as it unfolds before them.

John Bell
February 23, 2020 4:56 am

Earth orbit radius at 107 Sun diameters, that is pretty far out.

Reply to  John Bell
February 23, 2020 12:11 pm

Not as far out as the ninth plant Pluto. It has an atmosphere, a moon and orbits the Sun. what else do you dudes want to make it a planet?

Rich Davis
February 23, 2020 5:25 am

The Red giant exploding is an omen of Bernie Sanders’ head exploding when the DNC steals his nomination again at their convention in July.

The recent brightening must be a dead cat bounce. With the convention ending on July 16th, that gives us solid evidence that the supernova must come in less than five months!

It’s all science folks. I have models.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Rich Davis
February 23, 2020 6:18 am

That calamitous explosion is gonna be like a wet firecracker compared to the night of November 3rd of this year.
They might lose states like Illinois even.
Personally, I think they will have to give it to Bernie.
He is the first person to ever win the popular vote in each of the first three states…of any party, ever.
I have not confirmed that, but that was what one article I was reading last night was saying.
And if they do, expect thirds party stuff to disrupt their whole enchilada.
Probably will anyhow.
Hard to imagine no third party siphon this year.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 7:17 am

Compared to the Democrats, Trump actually is looking like a stable genius. The only reason to hold the election is to tally up how bad it is really gong to be for the Dems, especially if Burnie is the nominee. The odds of him, Shorty, Creepy Joe or even Fancy Nancy still being alive by November is questionable. Trump is probably in far better health, although I would like to see him work on his diet a little, and lose some weight. No more hamburger and fries Donald. We need you to stick around another 4 years to ensue we keep this party going.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Earthling2
February 24, 2020 8:51 am

“Compared to the Democrats, Trump actually is looking like a stable genius.”

Lol! Isn’t that the truth!

There are numerous reports of large numbers of Demcrats changing their political affliation to Republican. The Radical Democrats in Washington D.C. have moved the Party so far to the Left than they are alienating their more moderate base and leaving them no choice but to vote for Trump.

The leaders of the Democrat Party really do need a psychiatric examination. They are losing touch with reality and come to believe that socialism/authoritarianism is the way to go.

Bernie Sanders, the probable Democrat presidential nominee, on Sunday in an interview praised the communist government of Fidel Castro saying one of the first things Castro did was to institute universal education. As if that was a good thing. Bernie, Castro did that to more effectively propagandize the population and bring the youngsters up as good communists.

The Democrats are destroying themselves right before our eyes with their delusional, impossible plans and their violations of the U.S. Constitution and every social norm. People see the ugliness and don’t like it. Normal, sane people, that is.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 7:37 am

Don’t get cocky. The Democrats were convinced that both Reagan and Trump would be easy victories for them.
Make sure all of your Republican friends get out and vote. Tell your Democrat friends that the election has been moved to Wednesday.

J Mac
Reply to  Markw
February 23, 2020 1:44 pm

You got that right, Markw!

Rich Davis
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 8:13 am

If Crazy Bernie doesn’t get a majority, the so-called superdelegates come into play on the second ballot. Presuming that Pocahontas doesn’t throw her support to Heap-big Crazy Paleface, it’s entirely possible that Bite-me, Butthead, or Mini-Mike will accumulate a majority of delegates on a later ballot. That would be delicious to watch. Crazy Bernie might sit still for Biden or Buttigieg stealing it, but most of the Bernie Bros won’t. If MB (no, not Montgomery Burns, Mike Bloomberg) buys the nomination, it’s a fair bet that Bernie goes third party. Anyway, there’s always Jill Stein if he doesn’t.

So there are three hopeful scenarios for Trump: 1) Bernie is the nominee and some Dems decide not to vote because they’re liberals, not communists, and most independents decide Trump is a safer bet; or 2) Biden or Buttigieg steals it at the convention and a quarter of the Dems (Bernie Bros) sit on their hands; or 3) most hopeful of all, Doomberg buys it and there’s a nasty three-way race that thoroughly splits the Dems and turns off the independents.

Seems like right now, the election is Trump’s to lose. The biggest risk I see is coronavirus disruption of the economic boom. Eight months is a long time for new developments, especially with the propaganda media desperate to talk down the economy and to play up any negative event.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rich Davis
February 24, 2020 8:59 am

“Seems like right now, the election is Trump’s to lose. The biggest risk I see is coronavirus disruption of the economic boom. Eight months is a long time for new developments, especially with the propaganda media desperate to talk down the economy and to play up any negative event.”

It’s certain that any economic downturn will be blamed on Trump by the Left and the Leftwing Media. I’m not so certain they can blame an economic downturn caused by COVID-19 on Trump, though, although they will certainly try. Everyone can see what’s going on with COVID-19 and Trump doesn’t have a thng to do with it.

Eight months is a long time for problems to develop but maybe this virus will slow down as the temperatures warm up.

Mark L Gilbert
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 26, 2020 7:00 am

” I’m not so certain they can blame an economic downturn caused by COVID”

It is easily done, all they have to do is mentioned the sanctions against China to tie him in on the Chinese economy cratering

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 11:15 am

I always vote early. Much quicker than standing in line on election day and since I’m an on-call driver it is necessary if I’m going to be sure to get a chance to vote. However this time I will vote early because I’m taking vacation on Nov. 3rd and 4th and am going to sit back with some popcorn and a jack & coke or two or three and enjoy the show. Watching the long faces of the leftist media is great entertainment. I figure Trump to take at least 40 states and probably more if Bernie is the Dem candidate. Don’t think it’s possible for him to pull off anything like a Reagan tromping of Mondale in this country now but still it will be a bigger win than we have seen since that election.

Anyway I agree with you Markw. Everyone needs to get out there and vote to give Trump a mandate that cannot be denied even by the wackos on CNN and MSNBC. And besides we need a Senate that will still control confirmation of judicial nominees and actually this year the numbers game is set in the democrats favor. And we need an HR that will perhaps pass some Bills that Trump still wants to become law. Also Republicans gaining a majority in the HR while holding the senate will end the continuing attempted coup by the democrats.

Tom Abbott
February 23, 2020 6:03 am

And if you think Betelgeuse is big, you should see some of the other stars out there. They make Betelgeuse look small, like Betelgeuse makes our Sun look small.

The Universe is an amazing place. We are very fortunate to live in this particular time of exploration and understanding.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 23, 2020 6:13 am

For my money, the Universe of the very small is even more amazing that the Universe of the very large.
I think there may be even more orders of magnitude of smallness as well.
And you can look at it all, anytime you want, no devices needed.
You just cannot see anything…but it is all right there.
Did you ever hear about how many solar neutrinos, just the solar ones, are passing through every fingernail-sized spot on your body every second?

Nicholas McGinley
February 23, 2020 6:10 am

Be funny iff4en it ‘sploded now, after they said nevermind.

Joe G
February 23, 2020 6:51 am

It takes over 640 years for the light from Betelgeuse to reach us. So it could have went supernova years ago and we wouldn’t know it, yet.

February 23, 2020 8:21 am

I have never seen a supernova what a treat that would be. Not so much for anyone living near by.

February 23, 2020 8:27 am

Oh darn….. C’mon Betelgeuse, show your stuff.

February 23, 2020 11:30 am

Supernova deniers.

Len Werner
February 23, 2020 11:37 am

Just some back-of-envelope calculations–Betelgeuse is listed in the General Catalog of Variable Stars as having a dimming period of 2335 days, or 6.4 years. It has an estimated lifespan of about 10 million years.

The Sun has an expected lifespan of about 10 billion years. Applying a similar possible periodicity to it relative to lifespan, would give a dimming (or brightening) every 6,400 years–something of the order of the post-Fraser glaciation warm period about 8,000 years ago to, say, the Roman Warm Period. One of the smaller dips of shorter duration analogous to Betelgeuse might be the Little Ice Age.

Just musing.

But it is indeed striking just how dim Betelgeuse now is compared to it’s normal brightness we’re used to. By naked eye it is amazing to see a star do that.

Jeff Alberts
February 23, 2020 2:44 pm

Why do the headlines still assume we’re seeing something in real time?

Len Werner
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
February 24, 2020 4:54 pm

Not that journalists necessarily understand, but the light reaching us is arriving in real time. In that light it seems reasonable.

It is of course true that none of the universe has to still be there, especially the most ‘distant’. But I guess it’s also highly unlikely that all of it isn’t.

James F. Evans
February 24, 2020 5:45 am

Science doesn’t understand the physics of the Sun, so why would Science understand Betelgeuse.

Paul Penrose
February 24, 2020 10:37 am

“No boom today. Boom tomorrow. Always boom tomorrow.” – Susan Ivonava, Babylon 5.

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