The Sunday Telegraph today contains what has to be in line for ‘Worst Reporting of the Year’ award.
Under the headline “Second Sun on its Way” (which rather caught my eye), it reports, “The Earth could find itself with a 'second sun' for a period of weeks later this year when one of the night sky’s most luminous stars explodes, scientists have claimed.”
“Fantastic!” thinks I. But to my knowledge, no-one has yet been able to predict a supernova explosion, so what’s happened?
Betelgeuse, which is part of the Orion constellation 640 light years away from Earth, is a red supergiant, meaning that it is nearing the end of its life and is due to explode.
When it does do, it will burn so brightly that the earth will appear to have two suns in the sky, the Daily Mail reported.
So far, so familiar to astronomy fans, but then comes the key phrase:
What is less certain is when it will explode.
Brad Carter, senior lecturer of physics at the University of southern Queensland in Australia, said the explosion could take place before the end of the year – or indeed at any point over the next million years.
Hm. Not worth waiting up for, then. And in any case, astronomy being what it is on these shores, it is bound to be cloudy.
(As a PS, Betelgeuse is the slightly red-looking top left star in the constellation of Orion, the one with the 'belt' of three stars close together. It is so big that if it replaced our Sun, we would actually be orbitting inside it!)Anonymous users wishing to paste in the comments box need first to select 'preview', then close the preview box. When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.