International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Supergiant star ‘Betelgeuse’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Supergiant star ‘Betelgeuse’

Mains level : Big Bang Theory


Using the European Space Organization’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have noticed the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse.


  • It is a red supergiant star (over 20 times bigger than the Sun) in the constellation Orion.
  • Along with the dimming, the star’s shape has been changing as well, as per recent photographs of the star taken using the VISIR instrument on the VLT.
  • Instead of appearing round, the star now appears to be “squashed into an ova”.

Why is it significant?

  • Betelgeuse was born as a supermassive star millions of years ago and has been “dramatically” and “mysteriously” dimming for the last six months.
  • While Betelgeuse’s behaviour is out of the ordinary, it doesn’t mean that an eruption is imminent since astronomers predict the star to blast sometime (supernova explosion, which is the largest explosion to take place in space) in the next 100,000 years or so.
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