Thursday, January 26, 2012

Small Stone #27

Betelgeuse As Seen From A Hypothetical Planet
Due For Incineration In The Coming Storm

News Item, sometime soon: Today the star Betelgeuse, the upper left star of the constellation Orion, went supernova. It is no longer one of the largest of the red giants. Instead it is rapidly collapsing into a neutron star and the core will no longer be easily visible to the naked eye. Of course the remnant of the supernova will slowly change and fade for quite a long time. All across the world astrophysicists are having a heyday taking measures after measures. They were alerted early this morning, local time, when a storm of neutrinos and antineutrinos tripped the detectors and the source pointed back to Betelgeuse. The timing was perfect and many principle supernova observatories on the night side had time to align themselves with the upcoming event. The light began arriving just three hours later. Neutrinos come first because they are virtually massless and are not affected much by gravity or anything else. Even light must struggle to reach the surface of a star from within it because of the density and mass opposing it's travel. This is what accounts for the neutrinos' early arrival.

Of course, we must recall that Betelgeuse is some 640 light years distant and this means that the events of today are 640 years old and "actually" happened back in 1372 AD.

This evening, Astrophysicist Jeremy Pinchot wrote in his journal:

Ringing The Bell

Neutrinos sparking
in the heavy water tell
supernova tales
before the light comes
and a good thing too this is,
early news of things,
like you telling me
at long last you do love me
after all, thank God!

January 26, 2012 6:10 PM

(This post could not have happened without the nudge from Ethan Siegel and his latest post to his blog, Starts With A Bang. If you like things like this then please go there for the real thing.)


  1. We must have read the same article, because I wrote a poem off the same inspiration a while back. I love the exuberant tone of yours... ringing the bell indeed.

  2. Hmmm... Great minds, and all that!

  3. Interesting, I have been noticing that Beetlejuice has been looking particularly red lately. Of course lately, as you say, really means 1372 (a year in which, according to Wiki, remarkably little of any note seemed to happen), and soon, in stellar terms, could still be thousands of years off...

    I would love to see it go, all the same.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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