It’s pretty easy to assume that stars must be hot. Take our Sun, for example, the largest star in our solar system and responsible for providing life on Earth with heat and warmth for survival. But measuring the exact temperature of certain stars can be a cumbersome task; it’s not like one can take a thermometer up to simply check. One such star category which is difficult to study is the Red supergiant. This class of stars usually end their lives with supernova explosions. But a group of scientists from the University of Tokyo have come close to predicting this volatile environment.
Red supergiants are still largely a mystery. Even though we know our Sun is huge, it's tiny in comparison to a red supergiant like Betelgeuse. Most red supergiants are at least nine times higher than the mass of our Sun, which means when they die, they end with a ferocious and enormous supernova explosion — known as Type-II supernova. Understanding such supernovae is essential because they seed the cosmos with elements necessary for life.
Daisuke Taniguchi, associated with the study, said that ‘absorption lines’ are chemical signatures that can be ideal for testing the properties but “there was no single line that revealed the temperature alone.”
But they discovered iron lines and a ratio difference in it could indicate the surface temperatures. WINERED is an attachment in telescopes to measure the spectral properties of distant objects. They used it to analyse iron absorption lines and their ratio with the star’s respective temperature was helped in the calculation. European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory provided additional information related to the distance and temperature measurement.
The luminosity, or power of the star, was consisted of the theory proposed by the team.“We still have much to learn about supernovae and related objects and phenomena, but I think this research will help astronomers fill in some of the blanks,” Taniguchi added. Orion’s shoulder, or Betelgeuse, has the potential to go supernova in our lifetimes. They discovered the star dimmed unexpectedly in 2019 and 2020.