The red supergiant Betelgeuse is a star that is following a very different life path from our Sun.

Betelgeuse appears blue in infrared 14040

In this photograph taken using infrared light, Betelgeuse shows up as the bright blue spot in the corner of the picture.

The green cloud of dust and gas is sometimes called the Meissa ring, and is an area of intense star formation.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

This video, also taken in infrared light, shows what it was like for Tanno and Iguda as they arrived in the area and zoomed in close to Betelgeuse.

Video Credit: ESO/P. Kervella/M. Montargès et al., Acknowledgement: Eric Pantin

This image of Betelgeuse shows the cloud of material close around the star. This dust and gas has been released by the star as it became a red supergiant, and the shape of the clouds shows that the star is on the loose, travelling at 30 km/s through space.

It’s the 10th brightest star in the sky. Betelgeuse’s surface temperature is only 3,600 degrees, but, in its core, it is burning helium (to be totally correct, we should say ‘the helium is undergoing nuclear fusion’).

Image credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/L. Decin et al.

If you want to go outside at night and wave to Tanno and Iguda near Betelgeuse, this star map shows you where to look. In the constellation of Orion, it’s the top left star shown here.

Image credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/L. Decin et al.


Big star lifecycles. Betelgeuse is so large that it’s following a different lifecycle from our Sun. You can find out about star lifecycles from this video.

Once you’re clear on how Betelgeuse has developed to get to where it is now, and what is going to happen to it in the future, draw a poster to illustrate this lifecycle. Make sure you include a bright, colourful image for each stage in its life.

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These delicate wisps of gas make up an object known as SNR B0519-69.0, or SNR 0519 for short. The thin, blood-red shells are actually the remnants from when an unstable progenitor star exploded violently as a supernova around 600 years ago. There are several types of supernova, but for SNR 0519 the star that exploded is known to have been a white dwarf star — a Sun-like star in the final stages of its life. SNR 0519 is located over 150 000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish), a constellation that also contains most of our neighbouring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Because of this, this region of the sky is full of intriguing and beautiful deep sky objects. The LMC orbits the Milky Way galaxy as a satellite and is the fourth largest in our group of galaxies, the Local Group. SNR 0519 is not alone in the LMC; the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope also came across a similar bauble a few years ago in SNR B0509-67.5, a supernova of the same type as SNR 0519 with a strikingly similar appearance. A version of this image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Image Processing Competition by Claude Cornen, and won sixth prize.
Blue Ring Nebula