Apocalypse Soon: Supernova Betelgeuse is Coming

Great informational article about a star in the Orion constellation, Betelgeuse ,and when it will go supernova.

Image via Wikipedia

Its coming and it may reach Earth before 2012. In fact the gamma rays from the Orion star Betelgeuse, when it goes ballistic [Supernova] may hit us any day!

Many people are predicting the end of the Earth when the second brightest star of the Orion Constellation goes Nova. The Internet is being flooded with articles concerning the event is part of the Mayan Calendar 2012 predictions and the end of the world. But what are the facts about this very unusual event located approximately 600 – 800 million light years away from Mother Earth? (The Astronomical Journal –April 2008)

It is also interesting to note that the name of this red star is Betelgeuse, is associated with the “Devil” and evil machinations. Yet, the name Betelgeuse is a corruption of the Arabic word “yad al jauza,” which means the “hand of al-jauza.”. The word “al-jauza” is an ancient Arabic derivative which refers to “Central One,” or a mysterious woman.

The history of the bright star name Betelgeuse is a good example of how scholarly errors can slip into modern spoken word. Very early in pre-Islamic Arabia astronomers, called the star yad al-jawzā’, “hand of the jawzā’.” The jawzā’ was their name for the constellation Gemini. Greek astronomy blended with Arabian astronomy, the word was given to the bright star in the constellation Orion. Centuries later, scribes writing in Medieval Latin rendered the word misread the y as a b, which became the Medieval Latin form Bedalgeuze. During the Renaissance era, another set of scholars interpreted the first syllable bed– as being derived from a putative Arabic word *bāṭ meaning “armpit.” This word did not exist; it would correctly have been ibṭ. Nonetheless, the error stuck, and the new etymological spelling produced Betelgeuse, that melded into French as Bételgeuse, and finally in Late Old English as Betelgeuse.

But here are the scientific facts (theories and conjectures based on reason):

  1. One day Betelgeuse will appear as a giant explosion in the sky, which may be 4 times the size of a full moon.
  2. Most scientists believe the star is far enough away from Earth that the explosion blast and various particle rays emitted will not affect us drastically (if at all).
  3. This star is a huge mass of hydrogen gas that is (or did) going through a fusion process that changes the matter into heavier elements.
  4.  It is one of the largest stars known in the universe to human astronomy.
  5. On June 9th, 2009 it was presented to The American Astronomical Society that Betelgeuse was shrinking. Calculations from 1993 to the present show a 15% decrease in the stars diameter.
  6. It is a pulsating star, whose brightness changes with the density of its atmosphere: 0.2 – 1.2 brightness magnitude, which makes it one of the 10 brightest stars in our sky.
  7.  Betelgeuse is surrounded by many layers of dust and gas that it has already blown off through a very strong stellar wind and surround the star in a ring of solar dust.
  8.  Betelgeuse is projected by science to be only 6 – 10 million years old.
  9. Science says the star had a core made of hydrogen and thermonuclear fusion has already run out at its core, thus gravity has contracted the core into a hotter and denser state. This process fuses helium into carbon and oxygen which produce enough radiation to swell out its outer layers of hydrogen and helium.
  10. The red star is relatively rich in nitrogen compared to a less evolved star like our Sun (Lambert 1984).
  11. In 1995 astronomers found an enormous bright area more than 2,000 °K, hotter than the surrounding surface of the star (Gilliland & Dupree, 1996).
  12. Betelgeuse’s diameter is roughly 500 times that of the Sun.
  13. If and when it turns into a supernova the threat to Earth would be from the blast waves. Is Betelgeuse one of the “smoking stars” to which Nezahualcoyotl referred in his 15th century Aztec prophecy? It probably will not cause any direct physical destruction, due to the huge distance between Betelgeuse and the Earth. But then again.
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47 Responses to “Apocalypse Soon: Supernova Betelgeuse is Coming”
  1. jANICE M. HARDIN Says...

    On July 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    very interesting and informing article….somewhere in my tabula rasa this has always been needling me conerning this particular red star. in light of our situational circumstances on the planet, and the irregularity of weather patterns coupled with world events as they are taking place it is a BONA FIDE EXPECTATION that be shoula commence to brace ourselves for. so…….BE MINDFUL – WATCH THE SKIES -PRAY- AND HOLD ON TO GOD’S UNCHANGING HAND……..BEST WISHES AND MY SINCERE WATCHFULNESS

  2. atheistus Says...

    On July 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Yes , pray !
    Praying will change it all .

    With a bit of faith , Betelgeuse will not go Boom .
    The star will be become ice cream instead.

  3. drink beer Says...

    On July 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    mmmm ice cream,what kind of ice cream?I’ll bet Oprah has a plan but deep down I think we all just want some ice cream.This article just makes it more delicious.

  4. Mark G. Says...

    On August 1, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I do not think that this star, Betelgeuse (also known as Alpha Orionis), is 600-8900 million light years away. It is more like 400-600 light-years. If it was 600 million – 800 million light-years that would mean the star is in another galaxy since the Milky Way is only 100,000 light-years long. The great Andromeda Galaxy is only 2 million light-years away.

  5. Jay Says...

    On August 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    600-800 light years away, not 600-800 million light years…

  6. Gary David Says...

    On August 10, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    For more on the subject, read my article in PDF format titled “Seeing Red: Will Betelgeuse Go Supernova in 2012?”


  7. Gourab Modak Says...

    On September 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    First of all, I have to tell you one thing. Betelguese has probably already exploded 600 to 800 years ago. We have a chance to see the replay in 2012. So by the time we see the explosion, there should be no direct damage to us.

  8. SophyLynne age 12 Says...

    On November 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    No, Betelgeuse has not yet exploded. This article is half-wrong… Betelgeuse is expected to go supernova (explode) within the next CENTURY. That means we may not be alive to experience it. Traveling at light-speed, light from the blast may take as much as 400 years to reach our planet. I am writing a report and have seen the facts that I just stated at lease five times in published newspaper articles. Sorry!

  9. MindlessAutomata Says...

    On January 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm


    The only observable evidence of anything going on in the vicinity of Betelgeuse moves at the speed of light. Betelgeuse is about 640 light years away (where 1 ly is the distance light travels in a year), so we observe Betelgeuse with about a 640 year lag. We have no way of knowing right now whether Betelgeuse has gone supernova or not. Some of the evidence points to the star getting ready to explode, but we don’t know when that will happen. If it went supernova today, the light would not reach us for 640 years (give or take), but since the evidence is that the light reaching us now (640 or so years old) shows a marked and steady contraction of Betelgeuse’s volume, then it is more likely that it has already happened, and we are waiting on the light to hit us.

    Bear in mind, newspaper articles, even those in a “science” section of a newspaper, are error prone when it comes to science reporting, mostly due to a lack of familiarity with the subject, or as a way of spinning a story to an audience. Also note that an observed supernova (light incident on Earth) tomorrow, would be “within the next century” from now.

  10. John Rosengarten Says...

    On January 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    1. relative to the observer on Earth, the light seen from Betelgeuse today is between 500 and 600 years old.

    2. The Berkeley observations, with the same modern instrument all 15 years, definitely detects that the diameter of the star has reduced 15 percent. Also, recently Hubbel has detected a luminous hot spot, and the Southern European observatory has determined that a large plume of stellar material is being ejected.

    3. Once gravitational collapse begine, no force can stop it. Fifteen years of continous contraction is a strong indicator that a gravitation collapse is occuring.

    4. Theorists postulate that the supernova, when it does occur, will be “about four times bigger than the full moon” which is almost the size of the sun. Therefore, the radiant, bright outer layers of the star will be, for a short period of time, maybe a hundred hours, may be four times the size of the sun.

    5. Additionally, all scientists are certain that the first minutes of the final collapse will be thousands of times brighter than the sun.

    6. So, we will probably not be affected by the radiation of subnuclear particles, but by light and heat. For several days we will have an object bigger, brighter and hotter than the sun, adding to the planet’s heat.

    7. Additionally, some speculate that some larger Type II Supernovas include a strong EM pulse. This might affect radio communications for some time, and may fry all the satellites we have launched into space.

    8. While no one can say, exactly, when the supernova’s light will hit us, I can state with out fear of arguement, that the smaller the star gets, the closer the total mass of the star gets to the very center. Therefore, we should see a logarythmin acelleration of the collapse in the year or so before the final event.

    9. My calculations indicate this can not happen before 2018-2019.

    10. Further, the longer it takes to collapse, the bigger the boom and radiation and heat will become.

    11. Betelgeuse may have a hidden stellar companion lurking under its outer layers. This might account for the unequal brightness and the flare seen byt the SEO.

  11. gabby Says...

    On June 1, 2010 at 12:06 am

    omg i can’t find the volume of betelgeuse

  12. Eric Says...

    On June 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    If it\’s coming, it\’s already exploded. There\’s no stopping it, so stop your prayers. You won\’t see it as soon as it explodes because it\’s hundreds of lightyears away, but since it\’s already on it\’s way, that means it exploded hundreds of years.

  13. Chillyo Says...

    On June 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Betelgeuse is 400-600 light years away, not 600-800 million, this article is retarded and nonfactual… Nothing will happen when it blows other than it will get really bright for a while. Plus if we see the light from it’s supernova, that would mean it happened 400-600 years ago…

  14. beyond 2012 Says...

    On June 15, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Exploded or not yet, repentance will still be open anytime while we are still alive and kick’n. We just have to believe our good Lord that He has saved us from hell already.

  15. meg Says...

    On September 23, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Bring on the fireworks! :::PUTS ON SUN GLASSES AND GRABS THE LOTION::::

  16. Lynda Gordon Says...

    On October 7, 2010 at 4:27 am

    lolol…yup! 600-800 million light years away is so wrong! And I for one would LOVE to see the results of Betelgeuse gone supernova in my lifetime. What will be will be. ‘Aint nothing we can do about the consequences either although I trust the predominantly ‘ no harm to planet Earth’ theorists who are mostly learned scientists/astronomers.
    Dont sweat the small stuff peeps. ;)

  17. john Says...

    On December 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

    hi, i watch the stars regularly, and only began reading up on betelgeuse after i noticed it had become considerably dimmer, now i have again noticed that it has started to get slightly brighter? has anyone else seen this,?

  18. Pete Says...

    On December 13, 2010 at 1:53 am

    You can only die once, people. Relax.

  19. Uriah Jameson Says...

    On December 25, 2010 at 4:31 am

    I have tertiary syphilis.

  20. Doreans Says...

    On January 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

    prayn want help usduhs we must build a 4th city GATES IS SUPPLYING DUH SEEDS WE MUST REPEAT HISTORY LIKE THE DOREANS DID B4 WE MUST

  21. wil Says...

    On January 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

    It’s actually 600-800 light years i.e. less than a 1,000 Ly, not million. If it explodes it’s inconsequential: it’s too far away to hurt Earth or the solar system.

  22. ps im not the devil Says...

    On January 21, 2011 at 7:09 am

    religon ignores the facts and stumbles on blindly.

    science is only about the facts and what can be proven.

    so stop carping on about praying.

    oh yeah and 1 last thing…….. dinosaurs. ;p


  23. bloodshot Says...

    On January 22, 2011 at 7:02 am

    800 million light years, lol. That’s what you get when retards try astronomy.

  24. WhatDoWeReallyKnow,WhatAndWhoShouldWeBelieve? Says...

    On January 23, 2011 at 3:31 am

    Very interesting, but what no one has addressed is the possiblity of a chain reaction within the adjacent stars and star systems the surround this star, is that not a possibility and if so wouldnt that indicate that where there may be technically no affect on earth from this particular supernova, wouldnt a chain reaction of explosions send out radiation on a higher magnitude and then infact affect our planet and our solar system including our own sun?
    Sure, we “may” not close enough to be affected, but what about the other stars in that region of space as they will most certainly be affected by such a tremendous release of radiation and chemical reactions that could cause them to explode as well, hence the chain reaction. Does anyone else think this is a plausible theory? Also, wouldnt the remnant of this supernova be a black hole, and if so, wouldnt that black hole affect that region of space as well?

  25. Rigel Says...

    On January 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

    And actually there is no danger.Betelgeuse axis is not pointing to earth.So no gamma ray jet will affect us.Or at least verry little.

  26. Justin J Says...

    On January 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Betelgeuse is 450-750 LY away, and its only the size of half of our solar system, which is relatively small for a Red Giant. When the Red Giant reaches critical mass it will implode then explode in all three dimensions. The assumption that Earth will be affected in ANY way is ridiculous, we will only receive the energy in one dimension/direction, and of the one direction divide that by how many earths their are in the whole of the space of that direction. So, a rough estimate, we will receive 1/3rd of the energy based on our direction, then take that and throw in a rough estimate of 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
    So of the entire energy given off by the supernova, earth will only receive 1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of the energy (light/radiation) across the entire earth. I’m sure the (energy) figure is much less, I just got sick of typing zeros.

  27. Kikki Green -12 yrs old ;) Says...

    On January 24, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    0_e im sacred….. WHOS RIGHT???!?!!!

  28. davidnotafraid Says...

    On January 25, 2011 at 4:01 am


    Stars are not like big balls of TNT; they don’t set each other off. To go supernova, a star must be a certain mass, elemental composition, and be at the later stages of nuclear fusion, where much of the lighter elements such as hydrogen are exhausted. Any nearby stellar explosion will not give neighboring stars these specific conditions needed to go supernova and cause a “chain reaction.”

    Also, a black hole would not wreak havoc as you might expect. With betelgeuse gone, the newly formed black hole would be LESS massive than the original star. Therefore, anything close enough to said black hole’s event horizon to be sucked in would have had to be within the diameter of betelgeuse (aka bbqed) before it went supernova.

    Oh and its nuclear reactions and not chemical. Please don’t add fuel to the fire. Combining ignorance with fear is never a good thing………

  29. Exploding Cupcakes Says...

    On January 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

    If the argument is that we will see the light show in the coming year or two then the giant has gone boom hundreds of years ago. What we see is old news up there. Meaning its already happened and that we are seeing old data, new to us, old to the giant.

    If the argument is that the giant will go nova in the coming couple years, none of us will live to see it because again it will take 400+ years for the light to reach us, so dont get excited for a show unless you expect to live 4-6 more centuries.

  30. trevG Says...

    On January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    AFAIK- nothing travels faster than light- therefore any radiation accompanying end of life scenarios will take longer than light to reach us.
    Neutrinos will get here very fast and go straight through everything. Gamma rays soon after http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/oxford/realmedia/indy?size=16×9&bgc=C0C0C0&nbram=1&bbram=1
    will be as Justin above says- very spread out on an spherical area basis.No worse than from our rather closer Sun, which we survive every day!
    As we can only surmise [from this lag] by the fluctuations happening 500 years ago and just being seen- only time will tell when explosion due, not before.
    I hope many instruments pick this up as it is a unique chance to study a very rare event.
    Our magnetosphere must be intact to protect us well, of course!
    [Remember the 'Crab' Nebula?]

  31. Marc G Says...

    On January 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Can someone explain why the Hubble hasn’t already seen the SuperNova and predict when it will be visible to earth? I thought the Hubble can almost see back to the creation of the universe.

  32. davidnotafraidq Says...

    On February 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Hubble can see that “far” because of the large diameter mirror among other things. A stellar object will emit light in all directions. Therefore, the further away we get, the fewer light rays exist in one specific location. This is why farther objects appear smaller and are subsequently harder to see. Because hubble has a large mirror, it can detect a larger portion of space; which means more light from a distant object can be used to generate an image that would be impossible to detect if one only looked at a smaller portion of space (like our eyes). Hubble doesn’t look back in time so much as it can pick up images which were already there but too faint to detect. Because an image of a star is let’s say 13 billion light years away, the image is roughly 13 billion years old (not facturing inflation btw). So to pick up this stars image is in effect looking at a portion of the universe which was 13 billion years when it was created. If hubble could see that far as it exists today, it wouldn’t be seeing the past.

  33. trevg Says...

    On February 7, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Moderator/ Admin –
    Please remove my link above [Jan31st post] as it was submitted in error and then remove this request.I’ll try and find the intended link and repost.

  34. Marc G Says...

    On February 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Thank you for that explanation, it helped. So really the Hubble can only see the light that hits its mirror and amplify it. Our eyes are like black and white TV and the Hubble is High Def TV….

  35. Terry Says...

    On February 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Knowing my luck it will probably be cloudy for the few days that it is at its most spectacular.I usually miss all the meteor showers and partial eclipses etc due to bad weather.

  36. john valdez Says...

    On February 18, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I don’t think faintness of light should be a measure of distance. A dim lightbulb close-up can appear to be just as bright as a bright lightbulb far away. So if Hubble mirrors pickup a faintlight, who knows how far away it really is. I don’t know enough about this stuff to know how light is really measured. Does it have something to do with the spectrum? To me looking back in time is an absolute versus a relative circumstance. If we think about it only when the light hits our eyeballs here on earth. It doesn’t matter if it happened 600 years ago. Right here and today is real time. If we think of the origination of the point of light, then that is going back in time.

    Aren’t there other types of telescopes that can measure different aspects of light and matter. Within those parameters of viewing, would a supernova event be more accurately surmised.

    I hope I see it in my lifetime.

  37. davidnotafraidqq Says...

    On March 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    You sir are absolutely correct about the spectrum. Without that, distance cannot accurately be measured without using parallax or other techniques (of which make my brain hurt to even think about). There are three direct factors which are interrelated.
    1. Distance,
    2. Apparent magnitude (visible brightness from the observer’s
    3. Luminosity (which is independent of distance and is a measure of the electromagnetic, or light, radiation per unit time. Sort of like the Watt or a measure of power.

    Similar to how velocity can be determined if one knows the time and the change in distance, only two of the three parameters are needed to calculate the third. Using the sun as a standard, by analyzing a star’s spectrum, it can be determined what type, how hot, and how large a star is. This gives us the luminosity (which must be indirectly measured unless you want to travel to said star). A telescope will give you the apparent brightness. Now all you need is a little math and you have your distance. If; however, you are looking well beyond the Milky Way, then it gets complicated as the apparent brightness is affected by time dilation, red-shifting, space-time curvature, interstellar dust, gravitational lensing, and I’m sure other things we don’t know about yet.

    In case you care the equation is:

    D = 10^[{(apparent - absolute)/5} + 1]

    measured in parsecs. Don’t ask how to factor in the other variables. I am not an astronomer and have no clue. I just like reading a book here and there. This is really just my understanding so PLEASE correct me if anything is wrong!

    There are telescopes that measure almost every range of the electromagnetic spectrum (maybe all?). Don’t know much about it beyond what they measure. an example would be using x-ray telescopes to find black holes.

    Something weird to think about: the light didn’t travel from the star to your eyes across space, according to quantum mechanics. Rather, an energy wave was created by the star which propagated across the space-time medium with a given probability of where it should be in the universe, while not technically “existing” by our standards as a zero point particle in any one location. By interacting with the matter in your eye, that probability wave was 99.9999999999% or somethig likely to be where you perceived it, and thus manifested as a “photon” which you saw. Which actually didn’t technically exist before it hit your eye. Rather it was a probability that was forced to manifest as a point because it interacted with your eye and was measured……I think… that my understanding at least. (read about the electron double slit experiment) Crazy stuff.

  38. hunter_hunted Says...

    On March 6, 2011 at 8:28 am

    dear author kindly change the total distance of Betelgeuse from the Earth because its approx 600 light years not 600 – 800 million light years away. If it was 600 – 800 million light years away then it means that the star is part of a very very very very far far far far distant distant galaxy.

  39. Mike Says...

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I’m abit confused does Hubble see Betelgeuse in real time or 400 years in the past ?
    Some people are saying if it happens we wont see it but if hubble sees Betelgeuse in its past state then surely we will see it?
    If people are saying its already happend then surely it must have happend all them years ago and the light show is on its way then already ?

  40. davidnotafraid...... Says...

    On March 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    “If people are saying its already happend then surely it must have happend all them years ago and the light show is on its way then already ?”


    The concept of now is a silly concept when you are talking on a cosmological scale. Now is a perception/phenomena based on moving below the speed of light.

    In reality, everyone’s now is unique. If you are talking to your friend sitting across from you, it will technically be very difficult to agree on a now. Light travels at about 1 foot every nano second(.000000001 of a second). So if you are 3 feet from your friend, there is a .000000003 second delay between when your friend moves his lips and from when you see his lips moving and , and a .0027 second delay for the sound of his voice to reach your ears. The same is true with any star, except the time it takes the “now” to arrive to us is quite large because of the astronomical (literally) distance. So what is “now” really except a human attempt of standardization?

    When the Apollo missions sent men to the moon, there was about a 1.5 second delay between radio transmissions due to the large distance the light had to travel. Imagine them looking through a telescope (which only amplifies existing light too faint to see naturally, as opposed to reaching back in time) trying to say “OK Huston, wave to me in 1..2…3…now!” it would really be “OK Huston, wave to me in 1:31….1:32….1:33…..now!” quite a difference. The astronauts would be waiting 90 seconds before their signal reached Houston ground control, and then ANOTHER 90 seconds for the light of the people waving to come back. So after saying that, they would have be looking at the people on earth for 3 minutes before they saw a wave.

    I hope that example clarifies it.

  41. davidnotafraid... Says...

    On March 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    * Woops, for some reason I factored in 1.5 minutes instead of 1.5 seconds…. so it would add 3 seconds total, not 3 minutes

  42. evz Says...

    On June 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    i always thought a star of this size would cause a black hole due to the tremendous gravity if it died, or am i wrong?

  43. Con Lam Says...

    On August 5, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Where do you get the notion that Betelgeuse is 600-800 million (?!) years away from the earth when all other sources say that it is only between 400 to 1,300 light years away?

  44. Julian Says...

    On January 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I have a feeling that betelgeuse has already exploded but we havent seen or detected it yet because it so many light years away. I hope that I will be able to see betelgeuse explode in my life time……………..and then hope that it’s not what ends my life time.

  45. Mikeb58 Says...

    On January 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Traveling at the speed of light it will take 640 years for any radiation or particles etc… to make it to the earth. Unless it went Nova 640 years ago

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