"Betelgeuse better explode soon or I’ll blow it up myself."
Betelgeuse is one of the most visible and iconic stars visible on Earth — and with scientists predicting that it'll go supernova sometime soon, astronomy Twitter naturally has jokes.
In 2019, Betelgeuse became noticeably dimmer, which led to stargazers and scientists alike wondering whether the old red giant was about to go supernova.
Last year, the Hubble Space Telescope — remember that guy? — heightened the drama when it captured unprecedented images of Betelgeuse blowing its top but not going full kaboom. Ever since, speculation about when the star will complete its journey to supernova has roiled scientific circles.
Overall, astronomers predict that the famous star, which is still super-bright in its spot as the shoulder of Orion, will go supernova within the next 100,000 years. That's a long time for us puny humans, but the blink of an eye in cosmic terms — especially because the operative word is "within," meaning it could technically blow up tomorrow.
Naturally, scientists on Twitter are cracking jokes about the situation.
"Betelgeuse better explode soon," University of Chicago astrophysicist Sanjana Curtis joked, "or I’ll blow it up myself."
NASA planetary scientist Daria Pidhorodetska, meanwhile, quipped that she's "checking the betelgeuse status account" — a very fun update account a la "Liza Minelli outlives" — "in the middle of a packed bar."
Betelgeuse's imminent demise is such a meme at this point that someone resurfaced a 2016 XKCD comic about it — and a quick perusal of the web comic's site found that it's far from the only one about the red giant.
I giggle with each tweet imploring Betelgeuse to explode because my XKCD summary of supernova papers has aged gracefully, much like Betelgeuse as it refuses to detonate. https://t.co/B0bEp7slKo https://t.co/jFlyVbaXQy pic.twitter.com/9BKhYmWnP4
— Dr. Laura Lopez (@ohdearz) April 29, 2023
While those itching to see the star explode represent the dominant class of astronomy Twitter, there are still some who aren't ready to say goodbye.
"Am I a bad astronomer for not wanting Betelgeuse to blow up because Orion is my favorite constellation due to its gorgeous symmetry and beauty?" Middlebury College physicist Eilat Glikman tweeted. "I don’t want it to change!"
More on stars: Grim Images Show Helpless Star Disappearing Into Black Hole