People always want to know if the Sun will become a red supergiant. Main-sequence stars more massive than about 40 M ☉ do not expand and cool to become red supergiants. The biggest stars in the universe are called red supergiants. Any star over eight times the mass of our sun will go nova. The difference between red giant and red super giant is of course mass. Stars with more than about 10 solar masses, after burning their hydrogen become red supergiants during their helium-burning phase. For stars about the size of the Sun (or smaller), the answer is no. The contraction heats the core as it becomes more dense. Inside a star, hydrogen atoms are combined together to form helium atoms. For stars greater than 1 solar mass, but less than 2 solar masses, the hydrogen burning shell eats its way outward leaving behind more helium ash. Stars are thought to typically spend 1 per cent of their lives in the RG phase. Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) is a well-known example of a RSG. Basically a Red Giant is formed when a Star like our Sun burns all of it's hydrogen to helium and then rearranges itself. Their low surface gravities and high luminosities cause extreme mass loss, millions of times higher than the Sun, producing observable nebulae surrounding the star.

When a main sequence star runs out of hydrogen fuel in its core, fusion stops.

Stars by James Kaler The Lives of Stars by Ken Croswell. Red giants with known planets: the M-type HD 208527, HD 220074 and, as of February 2014, a few tens of known K-giants including Pollux, Gamma Cephei and Iota Draconis.. Prospects for habitability.

More massive Main Sequence stars evolve more quickly and expand further to become Red Super Giants (RSG). This process takes about 10 Billion years. Evolutionary Tracks of Stars of Different Masses: The solid black lines show the predicted evolution from the main sequence through the red giant or supergiant stage on the H–R diagram. In a red giant a huge, cool, low-density hydrogen envelope (with a density of about 0.1 kilograms/m 3) encloses a small, hot, high-density helium core (with a density of about 1,000 tons/m 3). A Red Giant star is formed when a star like our sun, or one larger, runs out of its hydrogen fuel. When they begin to run out of hydrogen fuel their cores begin to collapse. After becoming a Red Giant the Sun will become bigger and more denser than it is today. This increased core temperature and pressure causes helium to fuse into carbon via the triple alpha process. A white dwarf in a binary star system collects enough matter from its neighbor to cause a supernova. Main sequence stars with about 30% to 800% solar mass typically evolve into red giants, but stars with between 20% and 50% of the Sun’s mass do not have sufficient mass as to initiate helium burning in their “normal” red giant phase.


Each track is labeled with the mass of the star it is describing.

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