(spoiler alert – it’s still there.)
As you may have heard, Betelgeuse, the red giant which we know is towards the end of its stellar evolution and ready to go supernova, recently had an unprecedented dimming event. Its normal periodic variation suddenly dropped off a cliff in a way we’d never seen before. ESO trained the Very Large Telescope to the star to see what was going on and came back with the image you see here.
You may notice that in both photos Betelgeuse doesn’t look like a symmetrical circle like our Sun, but often lopsided which is normal for this weird star. The question with this image however is whether Betelgeuse is really having a bad-fusion day and about to pop, or has it wandered into the path of some sort of dust obscuring our vision of the star. We should receive some kind of early warning in the form of neutrinos or even a gravitational wave signal preceding any explosion so for now it looks like the dimming event is over and the trend in brightness is .. well.. looking bright again.
Soon, Betelgeuse, soon.
( Data via Twitter : @betelbot )
Also, check out Dylan O’Donnell’s video about the dust ring around Betelgeuse you can capture with a tracked DSLR and see if you can also reveal this dark feature :