Record coronal mass ejection at Betelgeuse is 400 billion times larger than the sun

Astrophysicists analyzed observational data from the Hubble Space Telescope and several ground-based

observatories and came to the conclusion that Betelgeuse in2019 experienced a powerful coronal mass ejection, but continued to exist. New observations show how giant stars lose mass before exploding in a supernova.

The sun also often loses mass from the surface.Such events are called coronal mass ejections. A new study has shown that the sharp change in the brightness of the star Betelgeuse in 2019 is associated with a similar event. But the mass of matter ejected by such a flare is about 400 billion times greater than the usual ejection on the Sun.

Change in Betelgeuse luminosity: predicted based on a 400-day cycle (dashed line) and real. Image: NASA, ESA, Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Researchers believe that a giant surgewas caused by a convective plume with a diameter of more than a million km, escaping from the depths of the star. It produced shocks and pulsations that tore off a piece of the photosphere, leaving a huge area of ​​bare cold surface under the dust cloud created by the cooling section of the photosphere. Observations show that Betelgeuse is now gradually recovering.

A giant fragment of the photosphere, weighing approximatelyseveral times larger than our moon, flew into space and cooled, forming a dust cloud that blocked the light from the star, visible to Earth observers. The blackout, which began at the end of 2019 and lasted for several months, was noticeable even with amateur observations using simple instruments.

Another amazing discovery is thatbecause of the explosion, the 400-day frequency of the supergiant pulsations disappeared. Prior to this, for almost 200 years, astrophysicists have measured a stable rhythm of change in the brightness of a star. Its destruction testifies to the brutality of the explosion, the researchers say.

We've never seen a huge blowout before.masses on the surface of the star. We've come across something we don't quite understand. This is a completely new phenomenon that we can observe directly and study surface details with the help of Hubble. We are watching stellar evolution in real time.

Andrea Dupree, Researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Institution's Center for Astrophysics

On the cover: a coronal mass ejection on the Sun. Image: NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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