Artist's impression of the blue giant Rigel, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
- Rigel is around 800 light years from Earth and is the brightest star in the constellation of Orion.
- Rigel is actually a three star system consisting of the blue supergiant Rigel A and two distant and much dimmer companions.
- Even though much of Rigel's energy is emitted as invisible ultraviolet light it is still around 40,000 times brighter than the sun.
- High mass stars such as Rigel exhaust their fuel at a far quicker rate than smaller stars, as a result they exist for only a few million years.
- Rigel is only around 8 million years old and has already exhausted the supply of hydrogen in its core.
- Our sun which is already 4.5 billion years old will continue to fuse hydrogen in its core for another 5 or 6 billion years.
- Over the next few million years Rigel will expand to an even greater size as it becomes a red supergiant and may eventually explode as a supernova.
- If Rigel explodes as a supernova it will become the brightest object in the night sky apart from the moon.
Light from Rigel (left of center) is reflected of the ghostly Witch Head nebula.
Rigel RadiusRigel has around 75 times the radius of the sun, if it was placed in the center of our solar system it would almost reach the orbit of the planet Mercury.
Rigel MassRigel is estimated to have a maximum mass of around 18 times that of the sun.
Rigel TemperatureRigel is estimated to have surface temperatures of around 12,000C (22,000F), more than twice as hot as the sun.
Rigel Luminosity (energy emitted)Rigel is a blue supergiant star with a luminosity more than 100,000 times that of the sun.
Rigel StatisticsAlso Known As: Rigel A, Beta Orionis
Distance From Earth: Approx 800 light years
Star Type: Class B Supergiant
Mass: 18 x Sun
Luminosity: Approx 117,000 x Sun
Diameter: Approx 65 million miles (105 million km) - 75 x Sun
Temperature: Approx 12,000C (22,000F)
Age: Approx 8 million years old
Rotation Period: Unknown
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