Betelgeuse Explained

  • Published on: 29 February 2020
  • At the beginning of 2020, the world held its collective breath as a nearby behemoth star, called Betelgeuse, start to dramatically fade. Could this mean the star is about to go supernova? With the recent flutter of news activity settling down, we are now finally starting to understand what might have really happened. Today, we take a deep dive into what makes massive stars like this tick, and then get into how we might have now finally come up with answers to this bizarre event.

    An educational video written and presented by Prof. David Kipping.

    You can now support our research and the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University:

    0:00 Teaser
    0:53 Massive Stars
    7:07 Dying Massive Stars
    12:47 Dimming 2020
    17:36 Explaining the Dimming

    ► Fuller, J. & Ro, S., 2018, "Pre-supernova outbursts via wave heating in massive stars - II. Hydrogen-poor stars", MNRAS 476, 1853:
    ► Dimming plots come from @betelbot ( Twitter account run by Michael Hippke, which collates AAVSO data.
    ► Gerhz, R. et al., 2020, "Betelgeuse remains steadfast in the infrared", Astronomer's Telegram #13518:
    ► Sukhbold, T. & Adams, A., 2019, "Missing Red Supergiants and Carbon Burning", MNRAS 492, 2578:
    ► Dolan, M. et al. 2020, "Evolutionary tracks for Betelgeuse", ApJ 819, 7:
    ► Adams, S. et al., 2017, "The search for failed supernovae with the Large Binocular Telescope: confirmation of a disappearing star", MNRAS 468, 4968:
    ► Levesque, E. & Massey, P., 2020, "Betelgeuse Just Isn't That Cool: Effective Temperature Alone Cannot Explain the Recent Dimming of Betelgeuse", arXiv preprint:

    Videos used:
    ► Simulation of forming protostars by Matthew Bate, The UK Astrophysics Fluid Facility, University of Leicester:
    ► Planet formation animation by Zhaohuan Zhu, Princeton:
    ► Animation of a white dwarf by VideoFromSpace:
    ► Core collapse supernova animation by Kuo-Chuan Pan:
    ► Animation of the Sun becoming a giant, credit ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen):
    ► Animation of a giant star, credit ESO/M. Kornmesser
    ► Supernova animation, credit NASA/CXC/A.Hobart:
    ► Neutron star collapsing animation, credit NASA/CXC/A.Hobart:
    ► Sunspsot rotating into view video by NASA/SDO:
    ► Hot iron video by Aaron Walsh, "Iron Born - An Artist Blacksmith":
    ► KDIST grabulation video courtesy of NSO/NSF/AURA:
    ► Betelgeuse convection animations by Bernd Freytag:
    ► Betelgeuse convection animation downgrade by Brendan Drachler
    ► Coronal mass ejection video from NASA/SDO:
    ► "What will it look like when Betelgeuse Goes Supernova" by V101 Science:
    ► ESO dome supernova animation 2 and 3: and
    ► Sun forming animation by Bob Stanford:

    Images used:
    ► Interferometric images by NASA/ESO/M. Montarges et al.
    ► HD 12545 images by K.Strassmeier, Vienna, NOAO/AURA/NSF:
    ► Betelgeuse dust wave/bow shocock image courtesy of ESA/Herschel/PACS/L. Decin:
    ► Thumbnail image is an artist's impression of NGC 1068, credit to NRAO/AUI/NSF, D. Berry/Skyworks:

    TV/Movie clips used:
    ► Sunshine (2007) Fox Searchlight Pictures
    ► How the Universe Works (2018) Pioneer Productions

    All music used is licensed by Commons:
    ► Cylinder Seven, Cylinder Five & Cylinder Two ( by Chris Zabriskie; licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (
    ► "Waking Up" by Atlas, licensed through
    ► Music from Neptune Flux, "Stories About the World That Once Was" by Chris Zabriskie (; licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license
    ► "Selha" by Stephen Keech, licensed through


    #Betelgeuse #BetelgeuseExplained #CoolWorlds
  • Runtime : 28:39
  • Astronomy Astrophysics betelgeuse betelgeuse explode betelgeuse supernova betelgeuse black hole massive star death betelgeuse dimming betelgeuse weird betelgeuse explained black hole failed supernova betelgeuse latest supernova nearby will beteleguese cool worlds david kipping


  • Boik
    Boik   2 days ago

    "Out out brief candle..." Cheers fellow mortal.

  • Brian Pardo
    Brian Pardo   2 days ago

    Why don’t you apparently know how to pronounce the name of this most interesting star?

  • Charlotte Raven
    Charlotte Raven   4 days ago

    The damp war angiographically report because kiss distally lock modulo a ruddy pocket. tasteless, quickest bulb

  • Carl Mannhard
    Carl Mannhard   4 days ago

    I can't stop watching the surface of stars. It's so beautiful

  • J Low
    J Low   4 days ago

    Anyone else wondering when will Beetlejuice be back on the Howard Stern's yet

  • J Low
    J Low   4 days ago

    Your intro sucks bad

  • CW
    CW   1 weeks ago

    I was into this until the whole ape thing. You might be part ape but I’m not. If people came from apes, where are the half ape half humans? Why are there still apes? If we came from apes, and apes still exist, and humans exist, wouldn’t there be half ape half humans walking around? All apes changed all at once?No because there are still apes..You see how stupid that evolution argument is?No proof or evidence what so ever..

  • TheRadiastral
    TheRadiastral   1 weeks ago

    9:55 I've always had a big issue with this idea. The idea of star matter just "collapsing" onto itself to a singularity. It's because of its spin. This is what my understanding is: You start off with a star, that's many millions of kilometers wide or more, which is (slowly or not) spinning, as they all are. Its core collapses by a factor of like 10,000. From 200,000 km, to a 20km object, or something on that order, right? The angular momentum will be conserved, so the core is now spinning literally 10,000 times faster. There's just no way you could make any spinning object collapse to a point of infinite density and infinitely small diameter, because its angular speed would have to also increase to infinity. There's just no way. And the faster it spins, the more the matter inside wants to fly apart, creating "outward pressure". All black holes are spinning like CRAZY .. I mean thousands of times per second. Neutron stars must be spinning super fast too, just maybe not as fast. I'd argue, that conservation of angular momentum is the ultimate limit as to how far any celestial body can collapse. It is that "outward pressure", the centrifugal force, if you will, that will keep matter from collapsing into an infinitely small point. Just my 2 cents.

  • Connor C
    Connor C   2 weeks ago

    Had to listen at 1.5x because you speak way too slow

  • Augustus
    Augustus   2 weeks ago

    Betelgeus already exploded. Earth will see 642 years in the future.

  • Rohit Pandey
    Rohit Pandey   2 weeks ago

    It farted. It was dimming because it farted.

  • Robert Maceanruig
    Robert Maceanruig   2 weeks ago

    I go back star at night bbc 1960s after pub shut X Coal Miner back shift. It give me open mind.we Not alone...

  • Forrest Howard
    Forrest Howard   2 weeks ago

    Its crazy how youtube channels are creating better content than the educational channels I grew up watching on TV.

  • Ray Walker
    Ray Walker   2 weeks ago

    I understand the dimming since has been explained: "Observations show evidence of a mass-loss episode that began nearly a year before the Great Dimming releasing a clump of gas. Montargès and colleagues suggest that, in late 2019, a combination of normal pulsation behaviour and a convection-driven cold patch in the star’s southern hemisphere began to cool the local environment. The drop in temperature allowed the recently shed gas in that region to rapidly form dust. This process generated a dense southern dust cloud that temporarily blocked much of Betelgeuse’s light, giving us what we saw as the Great Dimming."

  • Hugo
    Hugo   2 weeks ago

    The best explanation is that some alien civilization sucked it's energy

  • TryAngle 31
    TryAngle 31   2 weeks ago

    I subbed so hard rn. You have no idea.

  • X Mo
    X Mo   3 weeks ago


  • Rick Rhone
    Rick Rhone   3 weeks ago

    every single video ive watched by you is impressive as fuck

  • Rahul Ravanan
    Rahul Ravanan   3 weeks ago

    #அருட்பெருஞ்ஜோதி 🔥

  • RuttRho
    RuttRho   3 weeks ago

    It's not fading. Reaserchers determined the fading was caused by a cloud of dust spewed out by the star itself. Astrophysicists reached this conclusion, published on 16 June in Nature1, using high-resolution imaging of Betelgeuse before and after the dimming, combined with computer simulations.

  • renee claflin
    renee claflin   3 weeks ago

    day-o...mansmart womansmarter...jump in the line...

  • Charlotte Raven
    Charlotte Raven   3 weeks ago

    The macho united kingdom phytochemically hover because toe clasically ignore mid a determined feedback. mute, historical mistake

  • Tengen Topka
    Tengen Topka   3 weeks ago

    Your voice is soothing. I mostly listen to your videos while drawing.

  • Sreejith
    Sreejith   3 weeks ago

    Whatever is going to happen has already happened.

  • Pat
    Pat   3 weeks ago

    I thought this was about Lori Lightfoot, but this is more interesting, Thanks!

  • Robbie Khan
    Robbie Khan   1 months ago

    This actually brought tears to my eyes.

  • Elke S
    Elke S   1 months ago

    First half was awesome. Second half not so much

  • E Sotta
    E Sotta   1 months ago

    first time I hear that before the birth of a black hole there's no supernova