Friday, January 21, 2011

Tatooine in 2012!

See the UPDATE at the end.

Yesterday, The Huffington Post made this startling announcement.  
By 2012, a second sun may burn in our sky.  An Australian astronomer (now there's a tongue twister) contends that the star Betelgeuse is losing mass.  This means that its nuclear fuel is depleting and that the star could go supernova "at any moment."  The article I linked says that the soonest we could see anything would be 2012, so I don't call that "any moment."  I am guessing that the differential is due to the amount of time it takes light to travel 1300 light years to Earth.

How long would this "second sun" be visible?  The astronomer conjectures that it would probably last for only a few weeks.  But during that time span, there may be no night on Earth.  That, I believe, is astonishing.  I've always wanted to live in a binary star system.  Seriously.  Ever since I was that wee little 5 year-old watching Luke Skywalker stare at the dual sunsets on Tatooine, I've envisioned our sky with a second sun many times.  So given that the duration of this supposed event will be limited, I think it might make a good opportunity for me to "try it out," so to speak.

I am, however, curbing my enthusiasm.  I like The Huffington Post, but they tend to be...erm, well, let's just say I like to see their news stories corroborated elsewhere.  Secondly, this is only one astronomer's conjecture.  I'm not saying that his hypothesis is an incorrect one, I'm just waiting to see it go through peer review.
But it would be nifty as all heck to see this happen.  So go ahead, Betelgeuse.  Collapse and then expand.  Bathe us in the light and neutrinos of your death rattle.  We here on Earth will forever remember you for it. 

UPDATE: Ugh!!!  I knew I was right to be cautious!

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1 comment:

  1. On Facebook, Scott said: "Cool. Maybe that's why the Mayan calendar stopped where it did; someone said, "let's just put a pin in this date & we'll figure out how to deal with it when we get to it..." "