Red Supergiants

A star of 15 solar masses exhausts its hydrogen in about one-thousandth the lifetime of our sun. It proceeds through the red giant phase, but when it reaches the triple-alpha process of nuclear fusion, it continues to burn for a time and expands to an even larger volume. The much brighter, but still reddened star is called a red supergiant. Betelgeuse, at the shoulder of Orion, is the best-known example. Absolute luminosities may reach -10 magnitude compared to +5 for our sun.

Some of these supergiants are unstable and form the very important Cepheid variables. In their final stages, supergiants may explode into supernovae. The collapse of these massive stars may produce a neutron star or a black hole.

Index

Reference

Star diagram

Pasachoff
Ch 8
 
HyperPhysics***** Astrophysics R Nave
Go Back





Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is a prominent example of a red supergiant star. It is located at the shoulder of Orion. It forms part of the winter triangle seen from North America. Betelgeuse has a luminosity about 10,000 times that of the Sun and its radius is calculated to be about 370 times that of the sun.

If it were positioned at the center of our sun, its radius would extend out past the radius of Mars, approaching 2 astronomical units! Most stars on the main sequence have about the same size as the sun. It has a surface temperature of about 3000 K as determined from its blackbody radiation curve. Betelgeuse is about 310 light years away from the Earth. Its celestial coordinates are RA=5 h 52 m , dec=7° 24' .

Index

Reference
Kaufmann
Ch 19

Star diagram
 
HyperPhysics***** Astrophysics R Nave
Go Back





Arcturus

Arcturus is a red giant star in the Northern Hemisphere of Earth's sky. It is the brightest star in the constellation of Bootes, the fourth-brightest in the night sky, and the brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere. Together with Spica and Regulus, Arcturus is part of the Spring Triangle and, by extension, also of the Great Diamond along with the star Cor Caroli. It is positioned almost at the north galactic pole of the Milky Way.

Relatively close at 36.7 light-years from the Sun, Arcturus is a red giant of spectral type K0III - an aging star around 7.1 billion years old that has used up its core hydrogen and moved off the main sequence. It is 1.080.06 times as massive as the Sun, but has expanded to 25.40.2 times its diameter and is around 170 times as luminous.

Index

Reference
Arcturus Wiki

Star diagram
 
HyperPhysics***** Astrophysics R Nave
Go Back