Did Betelgeuse Consume a Smaller Star?

The red supergiant Betelgeuse. Its activity can be confounding, and new research suggests that the star could've consumed a smaller companion star. Image credit: Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/E. O’Gorman/P. Kervella

What’s going on with Betelgeuse? In recent years it’s generated a lot of headlines as its luminosity has shifted dramatically several times. The red supergiant brightened by almost 50% earlier this year, triggering speculation that it may go supernova.

But new research suggests there’s something completely different happening with Betelgeuse that has nothing to do with its recent fluctuations. It may have consumed a smaller companion star.

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