We see you, Betelgeuse, and we can't look away. Astronomers used a European Southern Observatory telescope in Chile to snap a view of Betelgeuse's surface and its "unprecedented dimming."
The red supergiant star that hangs out in the Orion constellation, leading to speculation that .
The Very Large Telescope's Sphere instrument captured the surface image in December 2019 as the star noticeably lost brightness. Astronomers compared the portrait with one taken in January 2019 and it's plain to see Betelgeuse is having a bit of a brightness crisis.
While a supernova would be a spectacular sight,.
"The two scenarios we are working on are a cooling of the surface due to exceptional stellar activity or dust ejection towards us," said astronomer Miguel Montargès in an ESO statement on Friday. "Of course, our knowledge of red supergiants remains incomplete, and this is still a work in progress, so a surprise can still happen."
The star is currently sitting at about 36% of its normal brightness, "a change noticeable even to the naked eye," ESO said.
Betelgeuse's fate is sealed. It will go supernova one day. That day will probably be tens of thousands of years in the future. Or maybe it will be tomorrow. We should.