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Waiting for Betelgeuse to blow

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#1 MikeBOKC

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:01 AM

Of all the outstanding targets open to astronomers with today's equipment, I would have to say that supernovae are at the top of my list. Whenever IAU lists a SN discovery at an attainable magnitude and location I go in search of it. Of course with the exception of the big one in 1987, most are in galaxies far far away. The ultimate target of course would be a fairly nearby star in our own galaxy going boom. Betelguese is the one mentioned most often as nearing SN stage, though there are other giant stars fairly close that could produce Type II SNs. Some Type Ia candidates are also within range, and a number of these are projected to be within hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of years of the big explosion, with plenty of uncertainty.

Perhaps someone has access to the answer to my main question: I know that Type IIs emit a high level of neutrinos prior to detonation, but I am not sure for how long and how detectable they are. Essentially, what are the parameters for the various types of SNs as far as "look out it's about to blow" evidence, and are there surveys that periodically monitor nearby SN candidates for those signs?

The conventional scenario has been that Betelguese might just go boom some night (which would of course cause the biggest overload here on CN in history) but I suspect we would have some advance warning . . . anyone know what that would be?

#2 Astrojensen

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:08 AM

I have no idea how much warning we would get. What I do know is that it'll be an awesome show!

But it'll also forever ruin an iconic constellation. Orion will never be Orion again. My childhood memories of seeing him rise above the treetops on the hills from my bedroom window will be like thinking of a dear friend whose face and smile I'll never see again.

My winter nights would never be the same again.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#3 bryguy27007

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:58 PM

I was listening to Astronomy Cast and they were saying, if I recall correctly, that the neutrino warning before a star goes supernova does not precede the actual event by much at all. In other words, it'll probably be a surprise. I can find the link to the podcast if you are interested (it was one topic among many, I believe in the Mysteries of the Milky Way podcast).

#4 rinalmj

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 03:33 PM

Does the IAU make new supernova announcements via a website? I looked around their site a little but couldn't find anything.

#5 Tony Flanders

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:02 PM

One good source for current supernova information is here.

#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:10 PM

It is known that at least some stars undergo huge outbursts before they go supernova. There's some thought that Eta Carinae's outburst in the 1840s, when it briefly became the second-brightest star in the night sky, might be an example of this.

But detailed data on pre-supernova stars is very sparse. To date, only a few supernovas have been identified with stars that had been observed in any detail before the explosion.

Just to show how little we know, the very first such was supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Prior to the event, one of the few solid pieces of knowledge about Type II supernovas was that their progenitors were red giants.

Guess what -- the progenitor of 1987A was a blue giant, not a red giant. So much for the received wisdom!

#7 JayinUT

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:04 PM

Mike,

With SN 1987A we detected about 25 neturinos here on earth (see this SN 1987A link) and at Wikipedia at this link so if Betelgeuse goes, which is closer, we should register hits from neturinos but if the neturinos hit 3 hours before the light from SN 1987A, I might expect a shorter notice since Betelegeuse is closer (please correct me if I am wrong, I was out all night observing). Thus the priority would be for professional scopes to get turned if possible to record the event and thus amateurs would probably only know when the light hit. However the bad news is that though old for a star of its type, Betelgeuse will probably go SN sometime in the next million years so the chance in our lifetime has to be dim. More importantly if it goes for us in the northern hemisphere, it will need to be at a time when Orion is in our viewing night sky. We'll still probably see it during the day but I would rather watch it at night. Knowing my luck of late, it will go in my lifetime like in June of the year. So perhaps the other question is would you travel south to see it if it did go in say June?

Oh, Celestia has a nice add on for stars that can go sueprnova to see what they would look like from earth. There is an image of Betegeuse at the wikipedia site and I posted the same image in another thread.

#8 Madratter

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:42 PM

With SN 1987A we detected about 25 neturinos here on earth (see this SN 1987A link) and at Wikipedia at this link so if Betelgeuse goes, which is closer, we should register hits from neturinos but if the neturinos hit 3 hours before the light from SN 1987A, I might expect a shorter notice since Betelegeuse is closer (please correct me if I am wrong, I was out all night observing).


They should proceed by about the same amount assuming they are actually traveling at very close to the speed of light.

It would actually be a pretty interesting observation because it will put hard constraints on that #.






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