The dawn of Betelgeuse in 2019 dimmed due to a gas-dust cloud that closed it from us. Evidence of this came from a rather unexpected source – the Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8.
Weather satellite for astronomical missions
Three scientists from the University of Tokyo were recently able to solve the mystery of the dimming of the Betelgeuse star in 2019. The Himawari-8 weather monitoring satellite helped them in this. It usually observes the Earth’s surface and clouds in the infrared range. However, this time its data was also useful to astronomers.
The fact is that the satellite is in a fairly high orbit. Quite often, astronomical objects also come into its field of vision. They studied the data transmitted by the device from 2017 to 2021. It turned out that Betelgeuse was present in his records every day during the most interesting year for researchers.
Due to the fact that the satellite operates in the infrared range, it was possible to measure the temperature of the star’s surface. It turned out that during this period it decreased by 150 degrees. In addition, it became clear that the reason for the decrease in brightness was a gas-dust cloud that closed it from us.
Riddle of Betelgeuse
Betelgeuse is an old red supergiant. It is at the final stage of its evolution. In 2019, its luminosity began to decrease markedly from month to month. This led to a slight panic, because scientists thought that in the near future the star could flare up as a supernova.
However, at the beginning of 2020, its brightness began to increase again and soon returned to its usual luminosity. The riddle of Betelgeuse then remained unsolved by anyone. But the assumption that the cause was a gas-dust cloud ejected by the star has been expressed repeatedly. Now it has found its next confirmation.
The work published in Nature Astronomy is also valuable because it is the first time that the possibility of using meteorological satellites to observe the stars is presented. This significantly expands the arsenal of modern astronomers.
According to phys.org
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