Rigel, which comes from a corruption of the Arabic word for "the left leg of the giant" is a supergiant star. It's temperature (36,000 F) is much hotter than the Sun's (10,000 F) and its brightness is about 47,000 times that of the Sun. Rigel, because of its high temperature, is white and is only a bit dimmer than the reddish, cold star Betelgeuse. Rigel is probably one of the brightest stars in our Galaxy.

Many of the other bright stars in Orion (for example, the belt stars) are at the same distance as Rigel. Probably Rigel and these other stars formed out of the molecular clouds astronomers have found in Orion.

Fact Table

Name Rigel
Object Star -- Super Giant
Distance 800 light years
Brightness 47,000 times greater than the Sun
36,000 F
Color White
Mass 20 x the mass of the Sun

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Ronald J. Maddalena 1998