Is the Universe a big fat couch potato, expanding by the hour? Maybe the Universe might learn something from Betelgeuse, who’s losing mass and gas thanks to Weightlessness Watchers. A salad might help too!
Listen here [2:30m]:
What’s the facts:
Astronomers have recently estimated the effective diameter of the Universe to be at least 156 billion light-years across, but we also know the Universe is expanding over a time, at a rate measured by Hubble’s constant. It’s even accelerating in its expansion thanks to the repulsive force of Dark Energy. But not everything in the Universe is expanding. Betelgeuse, a bright red star that’s in the shoulder of the constellation Orion, has shrunk by about 15% over the past 15 years. Betelgeuse is still a huge star, almost 1000 times wider than our Sun; indeed, if it was in the place of our Sun it would engulf the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Astronomers classify Betelgeuse as a red supergiant, 135,000 times brighter and 20 times more massive than the Sun.
Original air date 18 June 2009.