Rigel is accepted to have evolved off the main sequence, and some investigators estimate that it has lost as much as 3 solar masses of material during is short life of only 7 to 9 million years. It is expected that Rigel will eventually end its life in a type II supernova explosion, providing the material for future star formation.
This is a blue-white super giant with an absolute magnitude of -7.84. The appellation “super giant” is no exaggeration, either, as Rigel A has roughly 24 times the mass of the Sun, it shines 120,000 brighter, and is 80 times as big as the result of it swelling up, having depleted its hydrogen fuel supply.
The other component(s) of the system, Rigel B, is actually a binary system in itself, with a separation of more than 2,200 AU between Rigel A and Rigel B. This separation translates into a distance of 12 light days, so it is perhaps not surprising that no orbital motion has been observed, even though the components of the system share the same proper motion trajectory. Both members of Rigel B are B9V-class blue-white main sequence stars, having 2.5 and 1.9 times the mass of the Sun respectively.
Despite having the Bayer designation “beta”, Rigel is almost always more luminous than Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuse). The star is currently moving through a nebulous area of space, and as a result its light is being reflected off several nearby dust and gas clouds, one notable example being the eerie blue glow of IC 2118 (Witch Head Nebula).