Earth may witness twin suns if Betelgeuse star in Orion nebula explodes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MELBOURNE - The Earth could have a second sun lighting up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks, should the infamous red super-giant star Betelgeuse in Orion’s nebula explode.

Dr Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland said Betelgeuse, the second biggest star in the universe, is losing mass, a typical indication that a gravitation collapse is occurring, and when that happens, we’ll get our second sun.

“This old star is running out of fuel in its centre,” quoted Dr Carter as saying.

“This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly,” he revealed.

When this happens a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun.

“This is the final hurrah for the star,” Dr Carter said.

“It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up - we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all,” he explained.

Some experts have speculated Betelgeuse’s explosion may cause a neutron star or result in the formation of a black hole approximately 1300 light years from Earth, but Dr Carter says it could go either way.

“There’s a reasonably even chance of a neutron star or a black hole. If it were me, I’d suspect it would more likely become a black hole at 20 solar masses,” he added. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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