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RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Core of a red supergiant star, animation. Red supergiants (RSGs) are cool and large stars, many hundreds of times the size of the Sun. The cutaway animation zooms in on the core of the star to show the nuclear fusion processes taking place. Red supergiant stars exhaust the helium in their cores within one or two million years, and then start to burn carbon. This continues with fusion of heavier elements until an iron core builds up, leading to a collapse to produce a supernova. The animation shows successive inner layers from outer to inner: a hydrogen envelope, a hydrogen burning layer, a helium burning layer, a carbon burning layer, a neon burning layer, an oxygen burning layer, a silicon burning layer, and finally the core of inert iron. Examples of red supergiant stars include Betelgeuse and Antares.
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