Faculty in the News In the News

February 3, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Hicks in Dispatch | Will Dimming Betelgeuse Explode as Supernova?

Dr. Kenneth Hicks, portrait

Dr. Kenneth Hicks

Dr. Kenneth Hicks, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Ohio University, authored a column in the Columbus Dispatch headlined “Will dimming Betelgeuse explode as supernova?

Some stars have variable brightness, and Betelgeuse is known to be a variable star, but the recent dimming here is more (and faster) than in recent years. It has caused a lot of discussion among astronomers and in the media about what this means for the future of Betelgeuse.

Are you familiar with the star called Betelgeuse (often pronounced “Beetle-juice”), the reddish star in the constellation Orion? The three bright stars that form a straight line at the belt of Orion make it one of the most recognizable of the constellations, visible throughout the year.

Betelgeuse has been one of the brightest stars in the sky, but recently it dimmed by a significant factor, about 2.5 in brightness, corresponding to a change of one unit of apparent magnitude (a scale that astronomers use to measure brightness to the eye). This dimming happened over a relatively short period of two months at the end of 2019. Why this happened is, I think, a bit of a mystery.

Read the rest of his column in the Columbus Dispatch.

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