This question started as a clarification request of a question from Glorfindel, answered at least in part by James K, and I realized it would probably be best as a stand-alone question.

The most popular theory behind the recent dimming of Betelgeuse invokes a dust cloud formed from ejected surface gasses which then reduced the amount of light able to reach us. My question is, what would be the fate of such a dust cloud? I can think of two possibilities. The first is that it has sufficient velocity to simply escape the system. Moving in essentially a line from the star would produce a predictable decline in the dimming effect, one would suppose. Is this the case?

The second possibility is that the dust cloud orbits the system but disperses such that its effect on Betelgeuse' magnitude seen from Earth is negligible. It seems like this would also be something we could model fairly well. Clearly there is not a large blob of dust regularly reproducing the dimming event, so far as I am aware, which is why I considered dispersion.

Of course, there may be other possibilities. Articles found online are plentiful for the dust cloud causing the dimming, but I haven't been able to find out what would have happened to the dust itself.


1 Answer 1


Whatever was the event that produced this ‘dust’ probably produced it isotropically (or at least isotropic to a good approximation) which, like you said, will either escape the orbit or not if uninterrupted. Betelgeuse does not have much more time before it goes into a supernova, so likely regardless of whether it is gravitationally bound or not, the time scale of it moving to whatever fate it is destined for is probably longer than the timescale of how much Betelgeuse has left before supernova. Once it does supernova, it will likely follow the fate of the rest of the supernova remnant, being blown away by massive amounts of matter and radiation.


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