L'étoile Bételgeuse apparaît rouge-orange à l'œil nu. Elle l'une des étoiles les plus brillante d'Orion. © Sepe44, Adobe Stock

The star Betelgeuse shone in another color not too long ago

If the star Betelgeuse appears red to the naked eye now, it hasn’t always been. Researchers have demonstrated that its transformation into a red supergiant happened very recently, and that it was a yellow star 2,000 years ago!

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[EN VIDÉO] Why does the star Betelgeuse change in brightness?
Betelgeuse is usually the brightest star in the Orion constellation. Why has its luminosity been gradually decreasing since the fall of 2019? What will happen to him?

During its evolution, whenStar Having consumed all its fuel and can no longer do nuclear fusion, it then moves on to the next stage, which depends on Mass initial. LStar BetelgeuseA study analyzed in the journal MNRAS, Not an exception. She is currently at the stage of Red supergianti.e. it is taken from the key array and becomes a Supernova In an astronomically short amount of time.

When she was already surprised at her time Luminosity fades in 2019The second brightest star Orion constellation Researchers are interested in something else: its color. If it looks red at the moment, the team has proven that this is not always the case! Ancient texts from three thousand years ago show that “Betelgeuse evolved rapidly in color as it crossed Hertzsprung-Russell diagram »The study explains, meaning it was still yellow 2,000 years ago!

This type of evolution is rarely seen at the human scale.

Is it in the writings of the Chinese courtier Sima Qian in 100 BC? J.-C., or in Accounts “Mediterranean Antiquity (Hyginus, PtolemyGermanicus, Manilius and Clemides)”, Betelgeuse Described as similar in color 2,000 years ago SatOr just yellow. “From these specifications it can be concluded that Betelgeuse at that time was colored between the blue-white of Sirius and Bellatrix and the red of Antares.”Ralph Neuhäuser explains contactedFirst author of the study and professor at the University of Jena.

Seemingly insignificant but important data. “The fact that it changed from yellow-orange to red over two thousand years tells us, by theoretical calculations, that it has a mass 14 times our own. the sun — and mass is the key parameter defining the evolution of starsR. Neuhäuser explains. Betelgeuse is now 14 million years old and is in the final stages of its evolution. In about 1.5 million years, it will finally explode as a supernova.

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