McAlister, Harold A. Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A cool and highly luminous star, prominently located in the right shoulder of the constellation Orion and noticeably red in color. Betelgeuse, or α Orionis, is a supergiant star about 130 parsecs (430 light-years) from the Sun. Its spectral type of M2 indicates an effective temperature of approximately 3500 K (5800°F). This temperature would result in a low overall luminosity were it not for the enormous diameter of the star, about 1100 times that of the Sun. Replacing the Sun, Betelgeuse would fill the solar system to beyond the orbit of Mars. Betelgeuse is a supergiant star with approximately 150,000 times the Sun's luminosity. Betelgeuse varies in brightness with a period of 6.4 years. Its mean density is extremely low, less than one-millionth the density of water, and the low surface gravity of the rarefied outer layers results in a continual loss of matter, presently at the rate of 1 solar mass every 250,000 years. Observations at infrared and radio wavelengths show a complex system of dust and gas shells extending out as far as a thousand stellar radii. If this material were visible to the eye, Betelgeuse would appear as large as Mars through a telescope. These shells appear to originate from occasional outbursts in which material is ejected and eventually merges with the interstellar medium. See also: Spectral type; Stellar evolution; Supergiant star; Variable star
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information