Ep. 552: Boyajian’s star (and other strange stars)

Huge surveys of the sky are finding more and more planets, stars and galaxies. But they’re also turning up strange objects astronomers have never seen before, like Boyajian’s star. Today we’re going to talk about some unusual objects astronomers have discovered, and why this number is only going to go way way up. This episode was recorded during the CosmoQuest Hangoutathon on a special day and time: Sunday, Dec 22 at 2 pm ET/11 am PT/20:00 UTC on Twitch.tv/cosmoquestx. Download MP3| Download Raw Show with Q&A| Show Notes | Jump to Transcript or Download

Show Notes


Transcriptions provided by GMR Transcription Services Fraser:                         Astronomy Cast Episode 552: “Boyajian’s Star (and Other Stranger Stars).” Welcome to Astronomy Cast, our weekly facts-based journey through the cosmos. We’re gonna help you understand not only what we know but how we know what we know. I’m Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today. With me, as always, is Dr. Pamela Gay, a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the director of CosmoQuest. Hey, Pamela, how ya doing? Pamela:                        I’m doing well. How are you doing, Fraser? Fraser:                         Good. For those of you who don’t know, we are in the midst of the CosmoQuest “Hangoutathon 2019 edition.” You and your friends have already been streaming for 28 hours so far. Pamela:                        We are at one day plus five hours, 42 minutes. Fraser:                         After almost 30 hours, you will be going for another 10 hours after this. And, that is, of course, to help raise money for CosmoQuest and all the things that you do. For the people who are listening to the show – after the fact that it actually happened, we’re still taking donations for the next 10 days. Pamela:                        Yes. Fraser:                         How can people participate? And, what are we looking to do here? Pamela:                        So, what we’re trying to do is raise the funding necessary so that we don’t have to do a lot of begging in 2020. Instead of spreading the begging out over the year for all of our nonprofit efforts, which means, if you donate and you’re in the United States, it’s tax-deductible where the law allows. Fraser:                         That’s 501(c) (3). Pamela:                        Exactly. As part of the Planetary Science Institute, we produce The Daily Space podcast. We produce all the science projects that you see over at CosmoQuest. All of these efforts take staff, time, money, effort. For the past year, a lot of the people on our team have been putting in the effort that they know needs to get done. They know it’s the right thing to do. And, we haven’t had the money to pay all their hours. I don’t wanna do that anymore. I wanna pay people for everything they do. I wanna pay them a living wage. And, the difference between what we bring in in a standard month between donations and Patreon and everything else – and what we need to pay everyone all the hours they work is over the course of an entire year and multiple human beings is just $40,000.00. Right now, as we record, we’ve raised just over 10 percent of that. It’s not a lot. But, it’s one month of me not begging. My goal is to raise this fund so that we can focus on doing science with you. We just put out a press release, and hopefully, it will be hitting all of the news on Monday, announcing the names of the people in CosmoQuest community who helped map out the sample sites that OSIRIS-REx is potentially gonna go grab samples from. the names of the people that map the entire world allowing us to find those safe and scientifically interesting places to explore. Your donations empower us to do this. Fraser:                         Our goal with CosmoQuest and with Astronomy Cast and what we’re doing with all these projects is to help be the connection between the people who love space and astronomy and the science researchers who are doing the work to blur that line between who is a fan of space and astronomy and who is actually doing active research. Thanks to everyone’s work at CosmoQuest and mapping rocks at Bennu, the folks at NASA were able to choose their landing site for OSIRIS-Rex to be able to collect a sample and escape again – we hope – probably if everything is as safe as it looks. That was done thanks to a tremendous effort by so many people out there. We do this work hopefully for the benefit of all humankind. We don’t put anything behind any paywalls. We do everything out in the open as much as we can. Education should be free. Anyone who wants to learn should be able to learn. Pamela:                        The closest we get to a paywall is telling the discoverers days or sometimes weeks ahead of the world that they’ve discovered something. That’s just to allow us to get our ducks in a row. Fraser:                         The alternatives are put things behind paywalls, put a mountain of advertising into sponsorships and so on. And, hopefully, we can sort of find that perfect balance. And, the way that works is by people supporting. What is the UR or what is the link that people should go to if they wanna contribute to what we’re doing with CosmoQuest? Pamela:                        If you want to contribute to the Hangoutathon, the best way that you can donate is to go to streamlabs.com/cosmoquestx. This puts it through PayPal. There are no extra fees charged. And, this is simply a good way to keep our accounting in order. If you want more ways to donate, go to cosmoquest.org/x/donate. And, you will see all the different ways you can contribute to everything that we do. Fraser:                         Thank you, everybody, for your continued support through these 552 episodes so far and all the work that’s being done with CosmoQuest and all the work that’s being done with the weekly space hangout. And, here’s to decades more. Let’s get into this. Huge surveys of the sky are finding more and more planets, stars, and galaxies. But, they’re also turning up strange objects that astronomers have never seen before like Boyajian’s Star. We’re gonna talk today about some unusual objects that astronomers have discovered and why this number is only going to go way, way up. Pamela, let’s talk about Boyajian Star. What is it? And, how do we find out about it? Pamela:                        This is a star that we’ve been observing for long periods of time. You can go back through glass plate studies. It’s just a star that hangs out. It’s had slow, gradual dimming – no big deal. I know when Kepler started looking at it, they realized oh, oh, something is going on really weird. Back in March of 2011, it was noticed that this star’s brightness had dropped by 15 percent in a way that wasn’t something you would expect from any of the normal suspects. Fraser:                         So, stars can drop in brightness on a regular basis – variable stars. How did this look different from a normal, variable star? Pamela:                        First of all, 15 percent is a large amount. We see this kind of amount. You expect there to be a certain period that while it may have variations, it’s regular in shape. It hit a dip of 15 percent in March of 2011. It then increased by 22 percent in February of 2013. It had this irregular change. There are gaps in the observing because of Kepler’s reaction wheels – we all know how Fraser is about reaction wheels. In looking at this, what we saw clearly wasn’t a planet passing in front of it because that would’ve been a one percent dip. It didn’t match the periodicity and the regularity in brightening and fading that we expect of variable stars. There was this slow and gradual fading between 1890 and 1990 of about 20 percent that just was added on to all of this as an afterthought. All of this led to this insanity of guesswork being done where I think every possible theory except for a giant kitchen sink was thrown out to try and explain. Fraser:                         I’m sure there’s a paper somewhere – Boyajian Star is a kitchen sink – a mega-sink structure. Pamela:                        All of us had fun with this. How did you first report it on Universe Today? Fraser:                         It’s a tricky thing for us. Astronomers called attention to this star dimming as a mystery and as a thing that was weird. When they discover that a thing is weird, then they wanna try and understand what’s causing it. Whenever you do that, you kinda have to go back to square one and go could it be dust? Could it be gas? Could it be some kind of variable star? Could it be some kind of interaction? Could it have rings? Could it have planets? Could it have Kuiper belts? Could it be other stars passing in front? Could it be some kind of gravitational lensing? One that gets thrown as well is could it be some kind of intelligently created structure that’s in front of it? Is it a megastructure? Could it be a partially built Dyson sphere that’s causing this dimming? No one ever believes that, but ya can’t rule it out. You can always never rule out aliens, right. You can never always rule out aliens. Pamela:                        It’s never aliens until it’s aliens but you have to consider aliens. Fraser:                         Yeah, but you should rule it out because it’s never aliens. You get all of this back to square one of what is it? And, astronomers do all their models and fit all the stuff. These are some of my favorite stories to cover because you get this time where it is a genuine mystery. And, everyone goes we just don’t know what it is. Let’s find out. Let curiosity be our guide, and let’s get to the bottom of this. It has taken us years now with all of this stuff getting applied in different models to try to figure out what’s going on – observations to chase down those ideas. Now, what do astronomers probably think is going on? Pamela:                        Dust. Fraser:                         Good old dust. Pamela:                        Let’s run down what we thought it was and how we know that’s not what it is. One of the early ideas was that it was a regular, every day, circumstellar dust ring – so a ring of material around – looking around for a disk-like object. The idea was that we had a ring of material around the central star. And, as this ring of material went around and changed its inclination, it would dim that star. We’ve seen objects like this before. Fraser:                         Just to give people who are trying to imagine this, take a coin and spin it on a table. And, as it starts to slow down, it’ll start to wobble around on the rim of the coin. And, you’ll be seeing how this coin is kind of wobbling. And, from our perspective, imagine that that is a dust ring. Sometimes we’re seeing the star. And, other times, we’re seeing this ring of dust pass in front of the star. Pamela:                        The kind of repeating nature of something like that isn’t what we’ve seen. It doesn’t appear to be a circumstellar dust ring. So, then there’s the idea of a cloud of disintegrating comets. Something shocked this solar system equivalent of the Oort cloud. And, comets went raining in. As they block the light or don’t block the light, you see the variations in the star’s brightness. But, with that hundred-year gradual dimming, that doesn’t really seem to make any sense. How many comets does the system have? It just wasn’t consistent with comets being flung inwards – worthy idea, worthy idea. There was the idea that it was a young star and that the solar nebula around it was still forming and coalescing. But, this is an old star. You can’t both me a young solar nebula and an old star. There is the idea that it was a planetary debris field. So, something bad happened, and you have all these chunks of rocks on different periodicities that lead to different amounts of dimming. But, the colors were wrong. There was an idea that a planet was eaten, and the star burped. But, hundred-year-long dimming followed by the brightening and dimming, there was an idea that there was a ginormous version of Saturn orbiting it. And, the oscillating rings of this ginormous Saturn that is an eclipsing binary, they couldn’t make the math work on it because there’s this hundred-year dimming beforehand. So, then you start trying to add different periods – just no. It was just the star does it. Fraser:                         Yeah, but star does it for why? Why does the star do it? You can’t just say star does it because then that’s like aliens did it. What is the mechanism? Pamela:                        Yeah, so people tried to figure out if it’s starspots? Just none of our theories work. My favorite is the artificial megastructure. I actually got to sit on a panel at Dragon Con with Larry Niven and talk to him about this. Fraser:                         Oh, my God, Ringworld. Pamela:                        So, you explain the gradual dimming as they build the structure around this. You explain the variability as different inclinations of the structure that is incompletely built. But, you would expect certain notches out of the colors of the star if you have a structure because the structure would be blocking most colors of the light but then radiating away because it’s warm. And, we don’t see that infrared overage – that infrared access that you would expect from an alien megastructure. Fraser:                         Just momentary rabbit hole for a second, that is a technique that astronomers have used to go looking for megastructures. If you do a gigantic survey like the WISE survey of the entire sky, looking for really weird infrared stars. That’s what a megastructure of what a Dyson cloud would look like. And, astronomers haven’t seen any. People always say what if the aliens are blocking the infrared radiation? That’s heat. If you block the infrared radiation, you just cook. It’s called an oven, and you’re in it. So, you gotta get that infrared radiation away. They have to release it in some way shape or form so that we would be able to detect it. This is one of the methods of SETI. Astronomers have looked hard for both entire galaxies covered in Dyson spheres and individual stars within the Milky Way. So far, nothing’s turned up. We would see them. But, anyway, I digressed in a fun way – back to the story. Pamela:                        And, this is where it came down to a lot of people combining a lot of observations. We had folks spelunking through the historic literature, through the glass plates, looking for old observations. Everyone was trying to put all this data together. And, what was eventually found is there are changes in color that people initially screwed up the maps. One of the earlier papers that came out was this can’t be dust because the color is wrong – again looking for that infrared radiation of warm dust. The color was wrong in the initial paper. When the work got redone, they found that if you look at it in one color, you see one amount of dimming. If you look at it in a different color, you don’t see the same dimming because that infrared radiation is letting more of the starlight come out. And, the warm dust is radiating light. It turns out that sometimes it takes more than one person to do the same kind of research. It takes more than one telescope. It takes a lot of years. It was only in 2017 that people really started to accept the idea of oh, yes, this is actually dust. And, it took observations that here is what it says in the original research paper. This chromatic extinction implies dust particle sizes. This is the colors of light that are blocked – implies that there is one-micron dust. And, that dust will be rapidly blown away by stellar radiation pressure. So, the light from the star is blasting this dust away. So, the dust clouds must have formed within months. This means there are things that are currently coalescing these dust clouds. The modern infrared observations were taken at a time when there was at least 12.4 percent plus your minus 1.3 percent dust coverage. And, this is consistent with dimming originating in circumstellar dust. There is a ring of dust around this star. It’s getting blasted away, re-coalescing, and this process, which isn’t periodic is dimming the star in some colors and not others in a way that allows us to actually figure out what size the dust is. Fraser:                         The name Boyajian Star comes from the researcher who helped identify it. Pamela:                        Tabetha Boyajian. Fraser:                         Astronomers have since found other potential candidate objects that are kind of similar and are behaving in the same way. Pamela:                        There is a whole set of them. And, they all have esoteric numbers. So, we have HD1000543. They all have HD numbers. And, these are protoplanetary systems in most cases. It’s that difference between it being a young star and this one being an older star that led to the confusion. But, there are these rare instances of stars doing weird stuff out there. One of my favorite weirdo cases is our current Corona Borealis stars. These are stars that periodically undergo dramatic dimming events that are very characteristic because the stars periodically sneeze dust. And, all this dust blocks their own lights. We’re finding a new class of star. And, what’s amazing is if the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope manages to come on next year as we hope it will – Fraser:                         It’s 2021. Pamela:                        It got bumped again. Fraser:                         I thought it was 2021. It may be the first test is 2020. Pamela:                        First 2020 – full survey by 2021. We’re both right. That’s nice. It’s nice when we’re both right. Fraser:                         That was a very nice way of saying that you’re wrong, Fraser. Please continue. I’m probably wrong. Pamela:                        You were right about the survey. When LSST comes online, it is going to start ramping up towards burying us in new kinds of stellar variability – fully operational in 2021. It will be covering the entire sky every few days as visible from the Southern Hemisphere. They’re expecting potentially millions of transient events every single night as the telescope spots things that flicker, flare, fade away, and move in our sky. Fraser:                         We had a similar situation with Hanny’s Voorwerp. We talked about that many years ago on multiple occasions. You sort of started to talk about this with the LSST. Astronomy is kind of changing where these sorts of objects are now gonna start turning up. We’re entering the realm of giant surveys. Pamela:                        There are no purple M&Ms except at Easter. If there’s one purple M&M for every million M&Ms made and you randomly are gifted bags of M&Ms by random people – I want to be you, first of all. Second of all, as you go through these M&Ms, you’re probably not going to encounter that purple M&M unless you’re really lucky. Our sky is huge. And, as we look to study it, faint or more distant and rare objects may not get readily uncovered. This star just happened to be in the Kepler field. Fraser:                         Right, and that’s the key. That’s a fairly small field of the sky. Pamela:                        But, it had a huge number of stars in it. So, we’re looking at what? one in a hundred thousand. Fraser:                         I think that’s the part that’s super interesting about this is that we’ve seen variable stars. I’m sure the first time someone saw a variable star that they said that’s weird. What causes a star to change in brightness over the course of a couple of weeks? That’s madness, right. Now we see them all over the place and use them as measuring sticks. We see stars that are giant and red. We see stars that are dim and red. We see stars that are different colors. A lot of the regular stuff has been seen. Now we’re looking for the weird stuff. And, it’s these giant surveys that are turning up these weird candidates. That story of Boyajian’s Star is like you said about getting a purple M&M. How did that happen? You call the factory, and you find out that at one point someone did it as a joke or maybe someone – Pamela:                        The Easter run got mixed in with the regular M&Ms. Fraser:                         There’s an explanation, but it’s gonna take more time. We’re now finding all the weird edge-case scenarios, which is really exciting. Pamela:                        I do need to give a shout out to Astro YYZed and keeper of maps. Two of our audience members who have sent me both maple cream cookies, a Canadian delicacy, that was sent to the ISS. Before that ever happened, it was my favorite kind of cookie as well as Canadian Kit Kats, which don’t have corn syrup in them in the same way and Smarties Canadian style, which is my husband’s favorite candy. So, Andy’s gonna get to try them, and then I suspect that the rest will be stolen. I did have a candy fairy that may have inspired that analogy. These rare stars can be rare for two different reasons. One of them is they could be rare because it’s a very short-lived phenomena. If you think about it, it is only for the briefest moment in time that your average human is doing certain things. We all at one point or another are going to choke on a glass of water. Let’s face it. It’s not that rare. I’ve probably miss swallowed something once per year. And, here’s Fraser drinking and testing fate. Fraser:                         We don’t breathe our liquids. Pamela:                        But, accidents happen. The average person observing me is not going to ever see me choke on water because it’s a brief thing that’s gonna happen. But, all of us in our lives are eventually going to see one person in our life choke on a glass of water. But, there are other things that we do that are much rarer. Not everybody but some people have the misfortune of actually choking on something solid and needing the Heimlich maneuver. In my entire life, I have only once ever needed to use the Heimlich maneuver. Most people will never have to use the Heimlich. So, that is a very short-lived phenomena that are both short-lived and rare. Having it occur is not something that’s typically going to happen. That moment that a helium flash occurs in a star – so many things we probably don’t know what they are will happen in a star. It’s short-lived in the grand span of how long stars live. The probability we will be looking at the right star at the right time to catch the short-lived event is low. So, we’re gonna miss a lot of short-lived phenomena. And, then there’s just gonna be weirdo stars that do weirdo things across their entire life. But, they’re few in number. Fraser:                         Think about a supernova. A supernova is a very rare event. A star that has survived as a star for millions of years reaches the end of its life and detonates and is gone in a flash. And, we see them out there all over the place across the universe. If you compared those to the rarity of other things, it would be incredibly rare. But, it’s because they’re very bright, and we see them. We’re now gonna see the things that are very rare and not bright and not easy to see. And, we’re gonna learn as much from these new objects as we have from the bright ones – the supernova that we happened to notice them first because they were a star many times that massed the sun, detonating in a moment and gone and turning into a black hole. I can’t wait. We’re so close to seeing data come out of the LSST and these other sky surveys as well – WFIRST and what TESS turns up and what the Gaia survey turns up – Pamela:                        HATDeX – Fraser:                         Yeah, PLATO, Cheops just launched or Kaops – I don’t know. People give me a hard time. Pamela:                        Yeah, still working on the pronunciation of that one. Fraser:                         So, it has never been a more exciting time to be following the latest stuff on astronomy. And, we will, of course, bring you many, many more of this every week – especially next week, maybe. I don’t know. But, until then – Pamela:                        Until then – this is a hint – that thing that you’re wondering why we aren’t talking about it, next week we’ll talk about it. Fraser:                         The Betelgeuse thing. Pamela:                        Yeah. Fraser:                         Yeah, okay. We can also talk about the Starliner not making it to the International Space Station – but maybe not. That’s another conversation. Pamela:                        Things to look forward to 2020 – is it actually making it next time? Fraser:                         Come on, Betelgeuse. I love it. Pamela:                        Before we go, I do need to thank our Astronomy Cast Patreons. So, this week’s people that we’re going to thank are Glenn Bubba Samuel, Joshua Peirson, Dustin Ruoff, Joe Wilkinson, Brian Kilby, Chad Colpy, William Lauer, Jeremy Kerwin, Mark Steven Rasnake, J. Alex Anderson, Brent Kreinop, Omar Del Rivero, Tim Gerrish, Tyrone Fong, Arthur Latz-Hall, Dave Gates, and Neuterdude. Thank you so much. You and your patronage at patreon.com/astronomycast keep this show going. If you wanna help CosmoQuest, we are continuing to try and raise money. We’re still going to be doing it after the new year. You can go to streamlabs.com/cosmoquestx to help out with the overall administration of everything we do. Fraser:                         Thank you, Pamela. Thanks, everyone. We will see you all next week. Have a great Christmas – if you celebrate it and festivous for the rest of us. Pamela:                        Enjoy the discount candy. Fraser:                         All right, happy holidays, everybody. We’ll see you next week. Pamela:                        Before we go to questions, I want to thank you Kevlar for the thousand bits. I saw a donation come in but trying not to look sideways while recording this stream. Thank you seapossum8404 for the $44.94. You donated a palindrome – that make overall donations of palindrome – I love palindrome people. Fraser:                         That’s awesome. That’s so clever. Pamela:                        So, we are at 4099.98. Can someone make that a palindrome? It seems like it would be easy to make it a palindrome. You do the math. Fraser:                         All right, let’s get into some questions. So, Uvalin asks why is Betelgeuse supposed to explode or shrink? Pamela:                        Well, Betelgeuse is a red supergiant. It is a massive star that has already gone through its initial stages of evolution. It has puffed out. It has had some gradual variability. The atmosphere in stars like this – the outer layers of the atmosphere are actually thinner than the earth’s atmosphere. So, it’s really hard to understand what mechanism is controlling their pulsation at this point in its evolution. Down in its core, it is running out of fuel to sustain its nuclear burning. When it runs out of fuel that produces energy when fused, it is going to collapse. And, this collapse is going to trigger a bunch of different things that include the explosion of the star as a supernova. Exactly how it goes from that star it is today to that exploded future, we don’t fully know, which is part of what makes Betelgeuse’s current dimming so, so exciting. Fraser:                         How different is Betelgeuse? This is obviously a preview of what the show is gonna be next week. How different is Betelgeuse to the sun? Pamela:                        Like orders of magnitude – I don’t remember it’s exact mass. I know it’s currently hanging out bigger than Jupiter. Fraser:                         So, it is a star. If you drop Betelgeuse in the solar system, it would extend out beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Pamela:                        Yes. Fraser:                         It’s dozens of times the mass of the sun. It is on a completely different trajectory. It’s only a few million years old. And, it’s going to explode and be gone and probably leave a black hole when it’s done. And, we don’t know when it’s gonna happen. It could be happening right now. Or, we still might have to wait another hundred thousand or a million years for it to explode – not many million years though. It’s a goner. Pamela:                        Yeah, it’s a goner. It and Eta Car – Eta Carinae in the Southern Hemisphere – thank you Mike Eforcheze for the 200 bits. My dog is like wait, you said thank you; does that mean I get a treat? Fraser:                         Your dog’s trigger now is to hear you say thank you. Pamela:                        Yeah, every time I say thank you, my dog comes over and demands treats. Look at the camera. Look over here. Fraser:                         That’s really clever. Pamela:                        There’s another dog. Fraser:                         Yeah, we can’t do that with my deaf dog. Pamela:                        So, these are my dogs. Fraser:                         Our dog has gotten pretty clever. Even though she is deaf, she started to make some clever observations. She can tell when the kids come through the door because the light changes in the house a little bit. And, she can see that subtle change in light. She can feel the footsteps in the house when people are walking around. You can get her attention by just stomping on the ground. Pamela:                        Yeah, we had a deaf dog for years, and we did stuff like that. Have you had to resort to waving a flashlight to get them at night? Fraser:                         No, like your phone would work. Pamela:                        We’ve reduced to extreme because our dog was also near sided and deaf. Extreme motions were required. Yaviltin asks could it be that it would shrink into a kind of black hole? I don’t remember if the mass of Betelgeuse is big enough that it could leave behind a black hole. Fraser:                         I think so. Pamela:                        A black hole is one possible result of a supernova. We will prep for next week’s episode and figure out during prep just what awesome sauce is possible. Fraser:                         Yeah, a black hole or neutron star. It’s gonna leave some kinda remnant. Ogee Pyro asks are all stars in the galaxy like the ones that were big enough to turn on? And, we have 80 percent that were not big enough to turn on. Pamela:                        Not quite. Here the idea is when you have a cloud of dust and gas, it will collapse and fragment. The majority of those fragments are probably going to not turn into giant stars like Betelgeuse. There’s what’s called an initial mass function of stars where the bulk of your stars are going to get the little red dwarfs. The minority is going to be the mass of stars. What we don’t know because they’re really hard to see is what number of the stars are round dwarfs that maybe fuse within for a small period of time – maybe fuse tritium for a small period of time. What we don’t know is what ratio of the objects are that tiny. I’d expect that we would’ve been able to tell by now. As far as we know, they’re not going to dominate greater than the majority. There could be a significant number of them out there. I don’t think it’s gonna be that many. Fraser:                         Yeah, it’s just a standard mass distribution curve that you get a couple of – just think about money on earth. You get a couple of people with a ton of money. And, you’ve gotta get a bunch of people with the middle class and a lot of poor people. That’s how it works in the universe too. You’ve got these stars that have gobbled up all the space money. And, they’re gonna explode very quickly. And, then you have a middle class of stars – the main sequence stars. And, you’ve got a lot of people who don’t have a lot of hydrogen money. This analogy’s falling apart. Pamela:                        It’s just gotten very sad that at the most impoverished level of both, you just die because you can’t feed yourself. And, you don’t have enough mass to actually coalesce into anything. Fraser:                         But, the smallest of red dwarfs pretty much live forever. Like I said, the analogy’s starting to fall apart. Gordon asks if Betelgeuse could die without going nova. Pamela:                        It could undergo a massive of mass loss in a way that we don’t understand over the course of a large number of years. Mass loss is one of the things we’re still trying to figure out. But, unless some sort of completely not-understood-mass-loss event occurs – it has no mass, it’s going. Fraser:                         These unnovas – in a star that is like Betelgeuse, these large stars, they are forming all of these heavy elements in their core. And, they’re building up these layers. At a certain point, the inner layer becomes iron and stops fusing at its core. Then all these outer layers just collapse inward. Then it forms some neutron star black hole, and the rest of the layers are thrown into space. But, it looks like there’s a lot of them that just suck everything in until it fully collapses. So, it was a star, and then it’s just gone. It’s too good of a black hole. Pamela:                        This is a completely new idea that I have to admit that I’m still wrapping my head around and still trying to figure out. When does what happen? Fraser:                         Nobody knows. Pamela:                        Yeah, with things like that, there’s so many things we don’t fully understand. We’re working on trying to understand and how things die star-wise. Now we can do what’s called multimessenger astronomy where we’re detecting things through particle physics, through gravity waves as well as through the electromagnetic spectrum with light and radio telescopes, which just detect a different kind of light. It’s kind of amazing. Fraser:                         I see that your next crew have shown up. I need to give you some time to get that all organized. So, is it time for me to leave? Pamela:                        Sure. Fraser:                         Okay. Pamela:                        The reason I say it like that is you leaving means I can turn over this channel to Nancy Saundi and Morgan. And, I can go take a break. For the next hour, we are going to have some of our good friends from the weekly space hangout crew here to talk science. So, Fraser, do you have any parting words? Can you please tell all of our CosmoQuest people who are still getting to know you where all they can find your stuff, including your award-winning guide to space, that just keeps earning all the awards because it’s awesome? Fraser:                         Yeah, the guide to space shows up on my YouTube channel. But, the place to go for all the things is just my website universetoday.com, universetoday on Twitter, universetoday on everything. I think we wrapped up Episode 421 of the guide to space. We do two of them a week. Pamela:                        You’ve been doing that quickly. Fraser:                         We work quickly. I just wrapped up my 111th or 12th question show. Pamela:                        [Inaudible] [00:42:32] just donated $11.60, making us a palindrome again. Fraser:                         I’m gonna steal that idea. Pamela:                        I just love palindromes. Fraser:                         I know. It’s a great goal. It’s a micro goal to help keep things palindrome. I think it’s really smart. The other thing is thanks to – I keep saying this, but now it’s a promise – thanks to good friends at Oceanside Photo & Telescope. The telescope is working again. We were gonna try and bring it tonight, but now it’s cloudy and raining where the telescope is. Dustin updated the camera on it and upgraded the focuser on it. And, it’s a monster. It’s already just a monster now. It’s a super monster. I can’t believe the quality of the pictures I’m taking. A 30-second image of M33 of the spiral galaxy is just as good as the stuff you would do for hours in the past. It’s unbelievable how good this is. I can’t wait to share this all with you. Stay tuned both here on Twitch and on my YouTube channel for a lot more telescope journey. I guess we’ll see you next week. Pamela:                        I will see you in person in Hawaii in just two weeks. Fraser:                         I can’t wait. Pamela:                        Have fabulous holidays. And, may we get a supernova. Fraser:                         Yeah, that would be great. All right, thanks. And, hi, Morgan and Saundi and Nancy. I’ll see ya later. Bye, everybody. Pamela:                        Bye-bye. [End of Audio]   Duration: 45 minutes Transcriptions provided by GMR Transcription Services Download MP3| Download Raw Show with Q&A| Show Notes | Jump to Transcript or Download

Follow along and learn more: