Have you ever looked up at the sky on a really dark night and wondered what those bright stars are? One of them is Betelgeuse, the 10th brightest star within the sky. The famous star sitting on the constellation of Orion is also a supergiant, likely to explode at the tip of its life cycle in 100,000 years. However, it displayed an unexpected dimming, and by April 2020 dropped to 40 percent of its usual luminosity, triggering speculation it would go supernova. Betelgeuse, the brilliant star located within the shoulder of the Orion constellation and visual to the attention, experienced an outsized dip in brightness likely due to a dark starspot that caused an increase in surface temperature.
Although the brilliant reddish star might be a variable, noted for fluctuating brightness, from October 2019 to March 2020 it has fallen to 60% of its luminosity. This is one of the most important observations in 50 years, and left astronomers puzzled over the irregular light change. After Betelgeuse began to embellish again from April 2020, a supernova was ruled out, and astronomers took off to hunt out a replacement theory to elucidate the weird event.
A plethora of studies imply various theories to clarify the phenomenon, dubbed the great Dimming, reported by the EU Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) and Ultraviolet observations by the Hubble Space Telescope. They ranged from the pre-phase of a supernova explosion (at the tip of the life cycle of a red supergiant) to an oversized cloud of dust and gas moving between the planet and Betelgeuse, and changes within the photosphere of the star.
Regardless of what happens to this supergiant, it will far exceed our lifetime. With over 100,000 years to go, who knows if humans will still even be here to witness such an explosion.