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Supergiant Stars

A state of stellar evolution beyond the main-sequence life of a star. A red giant core is degenerate ionized helium, surrounded by a shell of hydrogen fusion, that expands the outer atmosphere in response to higher core temperatures. The hydrogen fusing shell eats through the surrounding atmosphere and deposits helium onto the shrinking core. The ballooning atmosphere cools and glows red; hence red giant. The Sun will become a red giant the size of Earth’s orbit in five to six billion years. Once the helium core reaches 100 million degrees, it explosively begins fusing helium. The birth of the active helium core is called the helium flash. The Sun as a red giant will fuse helium for about 2 billion years after the helium flash.

Radio Programs

Apep A “chaotic” star system August 15, 2019

Moon and Companions A star’s unseeable brightness July 12, 2019

Cygnus The impressive heart of the swan July 10, 2019

Moon and Antares Peeling the layers of a star February 25, 2019

Bright Dog Another impressive “dog” star February 16, 2019

Lepus Hopping after the celestial rabbit February 3, 2019

Navi A bright, busy star system January 21, 2019

Rigel A big star with a bigger future January 12, 2019

Future Supernova Impending doom for a giant star August 2, 2018

IRS 7 A giant in the heart of the Milky Way July 10, 2018

Moon and Antares A stellar weight-loss plan May 29, 2018

Good Night, Orion Saying good night to the hunter April 30, 2018

More ‘O’ Stars Big stars with a big influence April 13, 2018

Orion Rising The return of the hunter December 10, 2017

Rho Cassiopeia Practicing for a big blast November 22, 2017

Xi Persei A brilliant but doomed star November 16, 2017

Moon and Companions Cranking up a giant star September 25, 2017

Sigma Scorpii Impressive stars near the scorpion’s heart July 30, 2017

Double Bright The leading lights of Pegasus July 29, 2017

Alpha Lupi A bright star with a brighter future July 7, 2017

First Blast A powerful blast from the past July 2, 2017

More Lepus Revving up a massive star January 29, 2017

Bellatrix A truly “bewitching” star November 26, 2016

VV Cephei A “kingly” star in the northern sky October 26, 2016

Runaway Giant A giant star that’s running away from home October 19, 2016

Sadr A supergiant with a rare tint August 9, 2016

Deneb Circling around a giant star August 2, 2016

Heaviest Star A star with a weight problem July 6, 2016

Tarantula Nebula Making stars by the basketful July 5, 2016

Puppis Breaking up a mighty ship March 26, 2016

Lepus Bounding past the hunter’s feet February 6, 2016

Aludra The showiest “dog” star of all January 13, 2016

The Dog’s Tail The big dog wags its tail — after this. January 12, 2016

Eta Carinae Impressive stellar siblings October 19, 2015

Enif The bright nose of the winged horse October 17, 2015

Rare Gems Yellow gems from the water bearer October 2, 2015

Moon, Saturn, and Antares A stellar weight-loss plan August 21, 2015

Moon and Aldebaran Similar but different lights near the Moon August 6, 2015

Deceptive Giant A star that’s more impressive than it looks June 26, 2015

Moon and Companions A giant star hides in plain sight May 4, 2015

Moon, Saturn, and Antares Gazing at a star among stars April 7, 2015

Bright Paw The big dog’s brilliant paw February 12, 2015

Featured Images

artist's concept of antares

Splotchy Giant June 25, 2018

The Crescent Nebula

Colorful Demise December 14, 2017

Infrared image of Alpha Camelopardalis

Plowing Through the Galaxy January 25, 2017

Sun vs. VV Cephei

Home of the Whopper October 26, 2016

R136, a massive star cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Biggest of the Big July 6, 2016

Hubble view of Bubble Nebula

Bubbly Star April 21, 2016

Hubble view of the Eta Carinae system

The Homunculus October 21, 2015

Rigel, the brightest star of Orion

Stellar Stunner December 22, 2014

Hubble Space Telescope view of Eta Carinae

Future Fireworks June 16, 2014

A rare yellow hypergiant star in Centaurus

Jolly Yellow Giant March 13, 2014

Hot Dust January 7, 2014

RS Puppis, a supergiant star seen by Hubble Space Telescope

Dusty Skies December 18, 2013

Plumes of gas spew into space from the roiling surface of Betelgeuse, the bright

Stellar Timebomb December 1, 2011