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Hubble spies the culprit behind Betelgeuse star's dimming

August 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

New observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material that was ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from the star???s surface. This artist's impression was generated using an image of Betelgeuse from late 2019 taken with the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.??

The Hubble Space Telescope may have solved the mystery of why Betelgeuse, a massive bright star, experienced unexpected dimming. However, the star appears to be dimming again.

(CNN)The Hubble Space Telescope may have solved the mystery of the curiously dimming star Betelgeuse, according to new research.

Astronomers thought it might signify that Betelgeuse may be about to explode in a supernova and continued observing the star.

The Hubble Space Telescope observed Betelgeuse in ultraviolet light beginning in January 2019, so it was able to contribute information for the star's time line leading up to its dimming event.

"With Hubble, we see the material as it left the star's visible surface and moved out through the atmosphere, before the dust formed that caused the star to appear to dim," said Andrea Dupree, lead researcher and associate director of The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, in a statement.

Hubble has been used to analyze Betelgeuse as part of a three-year study using the telescope to study how the star's outer atmosphere varies.

Astronomers are unsure what caused the ejection of the star's material in the first place, but it may have had something to do with Betelgeuse's normal cycle of dimming and brightening, which is called pulsating.

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