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Stardust or star bust? Betelgeuse’s dimming light puzzles astronomers

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Astronomers have managed to take pictures of Betelgeuse showing that the star, one of the brightest in the Milky Way, has been losing luminosity over recent months, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said on Friday.

The mysterious dimming of one of the most visible stars in the Orion constellation has astronomers scratching their heads, with some saying Betelgeuse could be about to explode while others point to passing conditions.

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“The stunning new images of the star’s surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing,” the ESO said after astronomers used the observatory’s very large telescope (VLT) to find out more.

A team led by Miguel Montarges, astronomer at KU Leuven university in Belgium, has been observing the star with ESO’s VLT since December, aiming to understand why it’s becoming fainter.

Betelgeuse began dimming towards the end of last year and is now at about 36 percent of its normal brightness, “a change noticeable even to the naked eye”, ESO said.

Experts investigating the dimming they say is “unprecedented” still do not believe that Betelgeuse is about to explode, as some astronomy enthusiasts have been speculating.

“Betelgeuse will one day go supernova, but astronomers don’t think this is happening now,” ESO said.

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Instead researchers think that either the surface of the star is cooling because of exceptional stellar activity, or that there was “dust ejection towards us”.

Betelgeuse’s irregular surface is made up of giant convective cells that move, shrink and swell, ESO said.

“The star also pulsates, like a beating heart, periodically changing in brightness,” it said.

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Scottish government decries “devastating” effect post-Brexit border policy will have on economy

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a call for a Scottish visa, which overseas workers could use to settle in the country and to bypass the Tories' proposed "points" immigration system.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the United Kingdom's new post-Brexit border policy after it was released Wednesday, saying new rules barring people designated as "unskilled" and those who don't speak English will devastate a number of Scotland's industries and worsen the country's depopulation crisis.

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White House flack gets busted after claiming Trump ‘barely knows’ GOPer who took pardon offer to Assange

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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed on Wednesday that President Donald Trump "barely knows" former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who has been linked to a possible pardon for Julian Assange.

At a pre-trial hearing earlier on Wednesday, Assange asserted that he had been offered a pardon in exchange for publicly denying that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 election campaign.

Rohrabacher admitted in 2017 that he had tried to broker a deal between Assange and the White House.

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Amsterdam eyes ‘erotic center’ as new red light district

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Amsterdam is looking at moving part of its red light district indoors to an "erotic" complex where prostitutes no longer beckon customers through street-front windows that often attract rowdy tourists.

In plans released Wednesday, the Dutch city said the complex could include a bed and breakfast for prostitutes as well as a sex club, sex theater and cafes.

Or the city famous for its canals will build a large hotel for sex workers.

All in all, a prostitution hotel with indoor windows or an erotic center is the most obvious choice," the Amsterdam city council said in a statement.

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