University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

From the same journal

By the same authors


  • Meridith Joyce
  • Shing-Chi Leung
  • László Molnár
  • Michael J. Ireland
  • Chiaki Kobayashi
  • Ken'ichi Nomoto
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Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2020


We conduct a rigorous examination of the nearby red supergiant Betelgeuse by drawing on the synthesis of new observational data and three different modeling techniques. Our observational results include the release of new, processed photometric measurements collected with the space-based SMEI instrument prior to Betelgeuse's recent, unprecedented dimming event. We detect the first radial overtone in the photometric data and report a period of $185\pm13.5$ d. Our theoretical predictions include self-consistent results from multi-timescale evolutionary, oscillatory, and hydrodynamic simulations conducted with the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) software suite. Significant outcomes of our modeling efforts include a precise prediction for the star's radius: $764^{+116}_{-62} R_{\odot}$. In concert with additional constraints, this allows us to derive a new, independent distance estimate of $168^ {+27}_{-15}$ pc and a parallax of $\pi=5.95^{+0.58}_{-0.85}$ mas, in good agreement with Hipparcos but less so with recent radio measurements. Seismic results from both perturbed hydrostatic and evolving hydrodynamic simulations constrain the period and driving mechanisms of Betelgeuse's dominant periodicities in new ways. Our analyses converge to the conclusion that Betelgeuse's $\approx 400$ day period is the result of pulsation in the fundamental mode, driven by the $\kappa$-mechanism. Grid-based hydrodynamic modeling reveals that the behavior of the oscillating envelope is mass-dependent, and likewise suggests that the non-linear pulsation excitation time could serve as a mass constraint. Our results place $\alpha$ Ori definitively in the core helium-burning phase near the base of the red supergiant branch. We report a present-day mass of $16.5$--$19 ~M_{\odot}$---slightly lower than typical literature values.


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