Supergiant Betelgeuse has unprecedented stellar eruption

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Supergiant Betelgeuse has unprecedented stellar eruption

August 14, 2022 - Jim Denison, PhD

Artist rendering of Betelgeuse. © By lukszczepanski/stock.adobe.com

Artist rendering of Betelgeuse. © By lukszczepanski/stock.adobe.com

The star Betelgeuse is around fourteen hundred times larger than our Sun. It could contain our solar system all the way up to and including Jupiter. However, it’s now somewhat smaller after experiencing what scientists describe as an unprecedented massive stellar eruption.

Astrophysicist Andrea Dupree said, “We’ve never before seen a huge mass ejection of the surface of the star. We are left with something going on that we don’t completely understand.”

Here’s something else we haven’t seen: two galaxies are merging into one. The Gemini North telescope in Hawaii spotted two interacting spiral galaxies that are currently twenty thousand light years apart but are being pulled together by gravitational forces. They will merge into a single elliptical galaxy in five hundred million years. NASA astronomers say the same thing will happen with our Milky Way galaxy when we collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about four to five billion years.

Closer to home, the last supermoon of the year rose last Thursday night, though the moon appeared full through Saturday morning. It was named the Sturgeon moon by the Algonquin tribes because these large fish were caught more easily at this time of year in the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water.

One more astronomical note: researchers say they have discovered the first definitive proof that the moon inherited gases from the earth’s mantle. This finding supports the theory that the moon was initially formed by a massive collision between Earth and another celestial body.

Standing before a masterpiece

One of the reasons I enjoy learning about the massive size and unfathomable complexity of the physical universe is that I need to be reminded about the omnipotence and omniscience of the universe’s Creator.

Our secularized culture sees no world beyond the world it can see. Our consumeristic economic system makes us the sun around whom marketers and retailers orbit. Postmodern relativism encourages us to believe that God is whatever we believe him to be.

But if God is truly God, my mind cannot possibly conceive of his true nature. If I could, either he would not be God or I would be.

When I stood for the first time before Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, I was struck not just by the power of the scene before me but by the genius of the artist who created it. When I hear a symphony by Mozart, I am amazed not just by the musical brilliance of the artists performing it but by the virtuosity of the one who composed it.

David observed, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). A single glance into the nighttime sky confirms his testimony.

Four brilliant writers

In recent reading, I came upon four eloquent statements from four brilliant writers. Each of them responds to our theme and invites us into greater intimacy with the Creator of the universe.

One: Treat God like the mystery he is.

Frederick Buechner wrote:

There are mysteries you can solve by taking thought. For instance, a murder mystery whose mysteriousness must be dispelled in order for the truth to be known.

There are other mysteries that do not conceal a truth to think your way to, but whose truth is itself the mystery. The mystery of your self, for example. The more you try to fathom it, the more fathomless it is revealed to be. No matter how much of your self you are able to objectify and examine, the quintessential, living part of your self will always elude you, that is, the part that is conducting the examination. Thus you do not solve the mystery, you live the mystery. And you do that not by fully knowing yourself, but by fully being yourself.

To say that God is a mystery is to say that you can never nail him down. Even on Christ the nails proved ultimately ineffective.

Two: Treat yourself like the miracle you are.

Henri Nouwen observed:

The greatest spiritual battle begins—and never ends—with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.

Three: Treat every person you meet like the miracle they are.

Max Lucado encouraged us:

Every person you see was created by God to bear his image and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Imagine the impact this promise would have on the society that embraced it. What civility it would engender. What kindness it would foster. Racism will not flourish when people believe their neighbors bear God’s image. Will society write off the indigent, the mentally ill, the inmate, or the refugee? Not if we believe, truly believe, that every human being is God’s idea. And he has no bad ideas. High IQ or low standing—doesn’t matter. First string or cut from the squad—doesn’t matter.

You are a diamond, a rose, and a jewel, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. And because God’s promises are unbreakable, our hope is unshakable! (his emphasis).

Four: Trust God to do what only God can do.

Br. Luke Ditewig of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston noted:

God provides in our deepest struggles, where life is killing us. God provides when we doubt, question, and are afraid, no matter how much we have received before. God provides when we can’t see or imagine how life could get any better, when we’re afraid and tired, and when we’ve lost hope.

[But] God does not come nor answer as we may expect. God comes in surprising ways.

“God o’er all for ever reigns”

I’ll give the last word to Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers and most prolific writers in Christian history. He described the omnipotence of our Creator in these eloquent words:

Majesty gleams in flashes of fire amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires, and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

Then he quoted the poem:

God is God; he sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, ’mid thy pains,
God o’er all for ever reigns.

Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,
God defends who in him trusts.
Soul, remember, in thy pains,
God o’er all for ever reigns.

For this life’s long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in thy pains,
God o’er all for ever reigns.

Does the King of the universe reign in your heart today?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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