An 'unknown' burst of gravitational waves just lit up Earth's detectors
Don't worry, Betelguese is still there.
Jackson RyanFormer Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Fortunately for Betelgeuse (and unfortunately for anyone wanting to see a star explode), the red giant is safe, according to Andy Howell, an astronomer at Las Cumbres Observatory.
Astronomers have already swung their telescopes to the interesting portion of the sky, listening in across different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum for a whisper of what might have occurred.
However, the gravitational wave detectors do sometimes detect false positives -- and the error rate of this particular detection is one every 25.8 years, which is rather high for a LIGO signal. That means the burst could be nothing at all, and we'll make sure to update this piece should that be the case, but for now we can be safe in the knowledge that we're taking a closer look, Betelgeuse is safe and we may have detected something completely new! Cool!
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