The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, the bright reddish star in the constellation Orion, has steadily shrunk over the past 15 years, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers.
Long-term monitoring by UC Berkeley’s Infrared Spatial Interferometer (ISI) on the top of Mt. Wilson in Southern California shows that Betelgeuse (bet’ el juz), which is so big that in our solar system it would reach to the orbit of Jupiter, has shrunk in diameter by more than 15 percent since 1993.
Nobody’s 100% sure if this is a normal size variation, or the beginning of the end for Betelgeuse. Red supergiants are older stars, living out their retirement and telling comets to “stay the hell off my orbit!” Shrinkage could just be the next step on the way to the supernova grave. So raise a glass of Metamucil to Betelgeuse, in case this is the beginning of the end.