The supergiant star Betelgeuse had an unprecedented massive explosion
The red supergiant Betelgeuse, a colossal star in the Orion constellation, experienced a massive stellar explosion, astronomers said.
Betelgeuse first attracted attention in late 2019 when the star, which shines like a red gem, experienced a sudden dimming. The supergiant continued to fade in 2020.
Some scientists speculated that the star would explode as a supernova, and since then they have been trying to determine what happened to it.
Now, astronomers have analyzed data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, and they believe the star experienced a big explosion, losing a significant portion of its visible surface.
"We have never seen such a large ejection of material from the surface of a star before. We're left with something we don't fully understand," said Andrea Dupree, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"It's a completely new phenomenon that we can observe directly with Hubble. We are watching stellar evolution in real time.”
Our Sun regularly experiences coronal mass ejections in which the star sheds parts of its outer atmosphere, known as the corona. If they hit the ground, there could be an impact on satellite-based communications and power grids.
But the story of Betelgeuse is quite different. It emitted a mass 400 billion times the mass emitted by our sun.