Scientists have observed an interesting phenomenon since April this year: Betelgeuse, one of the most prominent stars in the sky, has become the "brightest star in the night sky," with its brightness increased by nearly 50%. Betelgeuse is one of the largest stars visible to the naked eye. It is usually not the brightest star in the night sky, ranking only tenth.
However, when observed in the near-infrared wavelength, it becomes the brightest. Betelgeuse is also a red semi-regular variable star, with its visual magnitude changing regularly between +0.0 and +1.6. This recent increase in brightness has exceeded this range, leading scientists to wonder if it could be a brilliant supernova explosion.
However, according to observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, Betelgeuse's recent increase in brightness is actually just a recovery from a "great dimming" event that occurred in 2019. During this event, Betelgeuse experienced a massive explosion but not a supernova explosion. It lost most of its visible surface and ejected a large amount of material. This phenomenon is extremely rare and has never been seen before in a normal star's behavior.
Scientists have analyzed data from multiple observatories and discovered that a convective plume with a diameter over 1,609,344 kilometers erupted from the deep interior of Betelgeuse, partially blowing off its photosphere. Dust fragments from the explosion cooled and formed a large dust cloud in the Taurus dust cloud, which contributed to the dimming observed on Earth. The ejection of material also caused opposing motion between Betelgeuse's shell and interior, potentially explaining the shorter brightness cycles.
After the explosion, Betelgeuse will enter an unstable period but have the ability to recover within 5 to 10 years. Despite losing a significant amount of mass in 2019, Betelgeuse still retains 95% of its original material, indicating that it has a long way to go before a supernova explosion. Estimates suggest it may take another 10,000 years at least. Only future generations may witness this magnificent "fireworks show".