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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two Suns in news

There is suddenly spurt in discussions ( read Fear ) about the Two Suns phenomenon expected 'sometime' in future due to the dying red supergiant star Betelgeuse finally blowing up and causing catastrophic results on Earth..

E.g. The Daily Mail/Times of India/Deccan Chronicle and other newspapers ( ) have reported that there will be a Two Suns situation and people on the street are relating it to Dooms Day predictions of astrologers in 2012.

Let's apply simple rules of physics to see to What extent the phenomenon will cause changes to us.

1. The time frame :

No one can predict the exact time ( even to the nearest month ) because we just do not know the real dynamics at which the event will happen .. it is only a speculation that it will happen in 2012. It could be now or after 100s of year. The cosmic scales are awesome .. one second of humans corresponds to 1000s of years in the life of universe. So exact time tagging is just impossible.

2. And is it in future???????

The star is 640 light-years away .. so it takes about 640 years for us even to know if anything has happened at that place.

So What we see today has actually already happened 640 years early ( 2011 - 640 = 1371 ) so around 1370 AD.

Therefore we can be sure of only one thing , that the star has NOT died upto 22Jan1371 .. ;) .

3. Will it burn the earth?

( sorry for the choice of words ) BULLSHIT.

The ( our ) Sun is about 8 light minutes away ( it takes 8 minutes for the sunlight to reach earth ).
Therefore if the explosion at Orion ( the constellation in which Betelgeuse is located ) has to lighten up equivalent to daylight then the energy generated has to be ( using inverse square law ) [ {640years * 365 days * 24 hrs * 60 min } / 8 min ] ^2 times the energy released by Sun. about 1.8*10^15 i.e 1.8million billion times ... a mind-boggling figure.

Then what does it mean?
We will see bright object but it will not be sufficient to illuminate significantly ... at the most something equivalent to moonlight in its early days of its brightness cycle ( a few days after new moon day ).

Naturally the heat delivered on earth will also be insignificant.

So astronomers will spend sleepless nights when that phenomenon occurs. It is their duty.

But for others? NOTHING. Nothing to worry for we commonfolks.

By the way where is the Betelgeuse star located? See figure below ( as seen from Hyderabad in south India @ about 8PM local time on 23rd Jan 2011 ) .. the star is one of the brightest star almost in the East. ( about 45 deg up from horizon ). Remember that the position changes very rapidly so don't expect to see the star at that place ... even on 23rd at 10PM it was below horizon.

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anmolkrishna said...

Whosoever has created that impression of Two Suns needs to be punished. The original article is a scientific observation by Prof Carter and it does not talk of any catastrophe.

Thanks for the article.

I am happy that at least a few souls may now try to look to sky and observe the beauty of night sky.

Anonymous said...

thank you sir for the update

s^3 said...

I feel very upset when someone tries to create panic for wrong scientific projections. Hence I had to clarify the things.
Thank you both for positive comments.

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