Featured Image: Forming Betelgeuse from a Stellar Merger


This image from a simulation shows how the the large, red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have been created by the tidal disruption and merger of a binary star within the past few hundred thousand years. Betelgeuse — a prominent star in our night sky — has recently made headlines due to its unexpected, sudden dimming and rebrightening. But the supergiant has other quirks, like how it’s hurtling rapidly through space as a “runaway” star, or how it spins unusually fast for its size. A team of Louisiana State University researchers led by Manos Chatzopoulos has now performed simulations that show that Betelgeuse’s odd properties could be explained if the supergiant was formed by the merger of an unequal-mass binary star system in the relatively recent past. To learn more about the authors’ results, check out the original article below.

Betelgeuse merger full

The full view of two frames from one of the authors’ simulations. The left image shows the original configuration of the unequal-mass binary star system; the right image shows the tidal disruption of the secondary around the core of the primary. [Chatzopoulos et al. 2020]


“Is Betelgeuse the Outcome of a Past Merger?,” E. Chatzopoulos et al 2020 ApJ 896 50. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/820/2/L40