The red supergiant phase is extremely short-lived, lasting only a few hundred thousand to a million years. at most before ending in a supernova (see stars, evolution). It is believed that high-mass red supergiants evolve to become Wolf-Rayet stars before exploding as type Ib or Ic supernovae, while those of lower mass eventually explode as type II supernovae.
Due to the scarcity of very massive stars and the briefness of the red supergiant stage, this type of star is extremely rare. Only about 200 are known in the entire Galaxy. Well-known examples include Betelgeuse and Antares. Among the largest known supergiants is Mu Cephei, also known as the Garnet Star.
Clusters of red supergiants
In 2007, Ben Davies, also of RIT, and a team that includes Figer reported the discovery of an even bigger collection of 26 red supergiants in another cluster of young stars called RSGC2, which lies just a few hundred light-years from RSGC1. The two clusters are similar in age – both less than 20 million years old – although RSG2 contains more than twice as many stars, making it one of the most massive clusters of young stars in the Galaxy. The nearness of RSG1 and RSG2 is almost certainly not coincidental. There is other evidence of star formation in this region, which is where the Scutum-Crux spiral arm of the Galaxy meets the central bulge.
Related entry supergiant
Related categories TYPES OF STAR
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