What Happens When a Blue Star Dies?

Our Sun (Sol, in the diagram) is big, but blue supergiant Rigel
makes it look a bit wussy.
By CWitte, via Wikimedia Commons
Question posed by asdf456.

What happens when any star dies is largely determined by its mass. Much of what happens to stars, and their properties, are determined by their masses, and this includes their colour: you can find out more about that in this post, but the bit that's relevant to this one is that if a star is blue, we know that it's very hot and must contain a lot of mass. We're talking somewhere between 10 and 50 times the amount of stuff that makes up our own Sun.

I've already posted about what happens when stars die (in case you want to read about it in more depth), but for really massive stars (like the noticeably blue Rigel, visible as Orion's left foot), you can expect a period of contraction and expansion accompanied by matter being thrown off, possibly forming a planetary nebula around the star. After these pulsations, when the star's fuel supply has dwindled to a point which means that it can no longer support itself against its own weight, the core will collapse. Depending on the mass of the core, we may see a supernova (or even a hypernova) as it collapses to become either a neutron star or a black hole.


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