As the 7th brightest star and the most luminous star in the solar neighborhood, Rigel (β Orionis) is a very intriguing object. This blue supergiant (B8 Iab; V-mag = +0.05–0.18-mag; B–V = -0.03), at a distance (from Hipparcos) of ~240±35 pc has a 〈MV〉 = -6.7 mag. The following physical properties were determined via spectroscopic, photometric, and interferometric studies: L/L⊙ ≈ 66,000 K; Teff ≈ 12,000 K; M/M⊙ ≈ 17±3; R/R⊙ ≈ 70; τ ≈ 3–10 Myr. Interestingly Rigel has similar physical properties with the 12th mag blue supergiant progenitor of SN 1987A: Sanduleak -69° 202a. Thus Rigel (along with its co-asterism Betelgeuse) are likely to be the nearest progenitors of a Type II supernova. Such a nearby explosion would be V ≈ -11th mag (similar to a quarter moon).
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* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.