I recently posted a stunning photo of the star Betelgeuse, taken by my friend and astronomer Adam Block. The star, a red supergiant, marks Orion's left shoulder, but is only one of four stars that mark the iconic quadrilateral of the constellation.
Kitty-corner from Betelgeuse, and in general slightly brighter by eye, is Rigel. It's a blue supergiant, a monster of a star that is every bit the equal of its redder companion on the other side of the constellation. It has a mass over 20 times the Sun's, and shines with an energy equal to more than 100,000 Suns, so luminous that even from over 800 light years away it's one of the brightest stars in the sky.
Adam took an image of the area around Rigel, too, a complement to the one of Betelgeuse. Incredibly, despite its terrifying power, Rigel is not the star (so to speak) of the show.
Everything else is.
Rigel (top center) is the brightest star in Orion, but in this very deep exposure there is a lot more to see. Credit: Adam Block /Steward Observatory/University of Arizona
Holy yikes. What a shot! Click here for a much larger version.
Rigel is the brightest ...