The bright cool supergiant star Betelgeuse became historically faint in early February 2020. Various explanations have been offered for its unusual behavior - including conjectures this foreshadowed an imminent supernova event. Many telescopes on the ground and in space quickly focused on the star. Even solar and environmental satellites joined in. Direct imaging, spatially resolved spectroscopy, polarization measures, infrared, optical and ultraviolet spectra and more help us to unravel what happened to Betelgeuse. The current state of the star as well as new results from continuing spectroscopic observations with the Hubble Space Telescope will be reported in advance of the next optical minimum expected this spring.
Andrea Dupree is an astrophysicist and currently the Head of the Solar, Stellar, Planetary Sciences Division at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian in Cambridge, MA. The CfA is the largest research institute for astronomy and astrophysics in the world. She received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and her Ph.D from Harvard University. She is a past-President of the American Astronomical Society, and has held offices in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and many national and international committees and advisory groups. Her research interests focus on stars and how they form and evolve, particularly employing spectroscopic techniques for analysis. Andrea has been studying Betelgeuse for a long time - especially from satellites to observe the ultraviolet radiation from the outer layers of the star - beginning with IUE and operating out of Goddard! She led the team that obtained the first image of a star other than the Sun - Betelgeuse - using the Hubble Space Telescope.