Friday, May 24 2024 14:01 AEST

Betelgeuse’s Rapid Spin Could Be An Illusion

Recent observations of Betelgeuse have caused a bit of a stir and it all centers around it's spin cycle...

It’s just blazing by so fast, faster than a star it’s size should be able to – at least to our understanding of astrophysics. But a team at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics may have the answer… it could be an illusion whipped by by the violently boiling surface.

With a diameter greater than 1 billion kilometers, and a brightness that dominates the northern hemisphere’s night sky, Betelgeuse is over 1,000 times larger than our star and well placed for study.

Recently, observations of it’s dimming brightness have proven that it can still throw surprises at us and now ALMA’s findings on a dipolar radial velocity map that it’s rotating at around five kilometers per second hinge on interpreting Betelgeuse as a sphere, ignoring the boiling bubbles cratering it’s surface.

Upon investigation, 3D radiation hydrodynamic simulations show a cluster of boiling bubbles rising in one hemisphere and falling in another, this convection is blurred in actual observations making it indistinguishable from rapid rotation. Further observations are needed to put theory into practice…

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