Looking Up: Hey Neighbor, Mind If I Borrow A Cup Of Hydrogen?

Aug 28, 2017

The sun doesn’t spend much time in front of the constellation Scorpius each year. It’s there for about a week, between about November 22 and 29.
Credit https://bobs-spaces.net/ / EARTHSKY.ORG

This week on Looking Up Hal tells the tale of a star in the tail of Scorpio.

Hopefully, you’ve never had to deal with a really bad neighbor. But if you are part of the double star system Kappa Scorpii, better known as Girtab, you just might be in for the worst kind of bad neighbor, the exploding kind.

Visible in southern Colorado skies right now as the star just short of the “stinger” star in the tail of Scorpio, Girtab is actually two stars. Both are bigger than our own Sun. The bigger of the two, Girtab A, is about 7 times bigger, and the smaller, Girtab B is about 5.8 times bigger. Both are running out of hydrogen to fuse into helium, and Girtab A may be just big enough to explode as a supernova before too long. When that happens, it is quite possible that Girtab B could be blasted out into space as what’s known as a “runaway star.” These crazy stars are zipping through space at amazing speeds, and usually in a direction that makes no sense given the movement of other stars in the neighborhood. So watch out for Girtab A, because it may prove to be the worst neighbor of all time. So, be grateful you don’t have exploding neighbors.

If you’d like to take a closer look at Girtab or any of the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.

This is Hal Bidlack for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society,