Betelgeuse, a red giant star in Orion’s shoulder, is behaving so strangely that many casual observers are speculating on social media that a stellar supernova explosion could happen any day now.
This M1.5 red supergiant star, also known as Alpha Orionis, is nearing the end of its life and has always been a candidate for a supernova explosion, according to NASA.
Betelgeuse is 1000 times larger than our Sun. If the red giant were placed at the center of our Solar System, it would extend past the orbit of Jupiter.
Betelgeuse was once the ninth-brightest star in the night sky so large it can be seen with the naked eye.
— Dr David Boyce (@DrDavidBoyce) December 20, 2019
But the red supergiant has become 2.5 times dimmer since October and is now only the 23rd brightest star in the night sky, according to Villanova University astronomy professor Ed Guinan.
If Betelgeuse goes supernova and does explode, it would be so bright that it would be visible during the daytime.
Most astronomers, however, believe that Betelgeuse won’t explode for another 200,000 years or so.