Data from weather satellites can be used to examine the stars, according to a team of academics from the University of Tokyo. Daisuke Taniguchi, Kazuya Yamazaki, and Shinsuke Uno discuss researching the dimming of Betelgeuse in 2019 using data from the Himawari-8 weather satellite in a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star, dimmed in brightness in 2019, an occurrence nicknamed the Great Dimming by some in the space world. The fading lasted till the beginning of 2020. While some speculated that the dimming was due to interference from a dust cloud, others disagreed, claiming that while some or all of Betelgeuse’s brightness had dimmed, it appeared more likely that the dimming was due to interference from a dust cloud.
The researchers wondered if the Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8 could provide any insight into the cause of the dimming in this new endeavor. It records infrared data and transmits it to Earth-based sensors 24 hours a day, according to the researchers. They also mentioned that because the satellite was deployed so far into space, it was able to catch weather for the entire planet’s surface as well as some of the stars in the backdrop.
The researchers reviewed data from the satellite from 2017 to 2021 in search of footage of Betelgeuse. They discovered that they could get data on the star once a day for the whole time period they researched. They looked at the data to learn more about the dimming that occurred in 2019 and discovered evidence of the star’s temperature dropping by about 140 degrees Celsius. They also discovered indications of dust blocking the picture, implying that their findings back up what many others had believed about the cause of the dimming.
Data from weather satellites could be a vital resource for space scientists, according to their research. Because the satellites circle above the Earth’s atmosphere, the data they give is not only more regularly collected than that provided by traditional ground-based telescopes, but it also provides a cleaner image.