four yellow-orange circles of differing brightnesses

Betelgeuse’s Mysterious ‘Great Dimming’ May Have Been Triggered By A Wandering Black Hole

At the end of 2019, the star Betelgeuse faded by about 60%. While it’s impossible to say for sure exactly what caused it, new research suggests a fellow traveler may have played a role. While swinging near the giant star, the intruder may have lifted a tidal bulge, causing Betelgeuse’s surface to darken. While this scenario could not explain the full amount of dimming observed, it may have triggered other effects on the star that compounded the problem, the researchers propose in a new paper.

Betelgeuse is one of the most recognizable stars in the sky. You can see it as Orion’s bright red shoulder and it’s usually the 10th brightest star in the sky. If you were to place the red supergiant in our solar systemit would swallow up everything inside rocky planets and stretch from the sun to the asteroid belt between March and Jupiter.

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