Betelgeuse (α Orionis)
The → red supergiant that is the second brightest star in the constellation → Orion. Betelgeuse is one of the biggest stars known with a size of almost 1,000 times larger than the Sun, corresponding to an angular diameter of 43.76 ± 0.12 milli-arcseconds (Perrin et al. 2004, A&A 418, 675). It is a → semiregular variable whose → apparent visual magnitude varies between 0.2 and 1.2 shining very rarely more brightly than its neighbor → Rigel. The energy released by Betelgeuse is estimated to be only 13% in the form of visible light, with most of its radiation being at → infrared wavelengths. The distance of Betelgeuse is 643±146 → light-years (Harper et al. 2008, AJ 135, 1430), while its luminosity is about 140,000 times that of the Sun (→ solar luminosity). Its → spectral type is M2 Iab, its → surface temperature about 3,600 K, and its → initial mass 10 to 20 → solar masses (Msun). Neilson & Lester (2011, arXiv:1109.4562) recently proposed a mass of 11.6 (+5.0, -3.9) Msun for Betelgeuse, while Dolan et al. (2008, BAPS 53, APR.S8.6) obtained about 21 Msun. Its → rotation period is estimated to be about 17 years (Uittenbroek et al. 1998, AJ 116, 2501). Recent observations with the → Very Large Telescope resolve not only the apparent surface of Betelgeuse, but also reveal a large and previously unknown plume of gas extending into space from the surface of the star (Kervella et al. 2009, A&A 504, 115). The plume extends to at least six times the diameter of the star, corresponding to the distance between the Sun and Neptune. This detection suggests that the whole outer shell of Betelgeuse is not shedding matter evenly in all directions. More recently, an image of the surface of the star was obtained using long → baseline → interferometry at infrared wavelengths (Haubois et al. 2009, A&A 508, 923). It shows the presence of an irregular flux distribution possibly caused by enormous → convective cells. A very large dusty envelope has also been observed at larger distances from the star (Kervella et al. 2011, A&A 531, A117).
Betelgeuse, from Ar. Ibt al-Jauza' (
Ebtoljowzâ, from Ar. Ibt al-Jauza'.