Betelgeuse Star May Be Ready To Explode

If you're into stargazing or otherwise familiar with the night sky, you might have noticed that the famous wintertime constellation, Orion the Hunter, is going through strange times. As tells us, this is because one of its stars, Alpha Orionis — which you may know better as Betelgeuse — is fading. And that is because the red giant star may be gearing up to go supernova, meaning it might soon explode. If this happens, it would be a truly magnificent event ... magnificently lethal, that is. Apart from the kind of light show only a spectacularly dying sun can offer, an exploding Betelgeuse would also pepper everything within a 50 light year radius with lethal radiation.

So, can scientists even explain what's going to happen if this galactic hand grenade decides to go boom? Is it the end for us all, or will good old Betelgeuse merely treat us with some truly brilliant fireworks? (Please be the latter.) 

What's going to happen if Betelgeuse explodes?

Our solar system is fortunately well beyond Betelgeuse's "kill zone," so even if the star decides to call it quits, the only way it can ruin your day is if you really, really liked Orion the Hunter without any supernovas on the side. Apart from people with access to high-powered telescope equipment and other Star Wars-type space stuff, we probably wouldn't see the supernova exactly color the night sky red, either. Still, that doesn't mean it would go unnoticed: According to calculations, Betelgeuse's demise would be "16 times fainter than a full moon, but 100 times brighter than Venus," so you could definitely see it with a naked eye even on a clear day. 

Scientifically, the situation would also be exciting, since supernovas on our relative cosmic backyard aren't exactly commonplace — in fact, there has been exactly zero of them during humanity's "telescopic era." So, while it's impolite to suggest that a celestial object should just explode, it would certainly be pretty cool if Betelgeuse did precisely that.