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What is a high mass star?

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Quick Answer

According to the University of Leicester, high mass stars are those that have at least three times the mass of the Sun. By contrast, low mass stars have less than half of the mass of the Sun, and intermediate mass stars have masses between the two extremes. High mass stars are the largest, hottest and brightest.

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Full Answer

The largest star known has approximately 265 times the mass of the Sun. However, some scientists contend that these measurements are not correct, and that stars over 200 times the size of the Sun cannot form. Several other stars have 150 or more times the Sun’s mass. Due to their incredibly high temperatures, high mass stars are white, blue-white or blue in color. These stars use up the hydrogen fuel in their cores remarkably fast, so they last a relatively brief time, compared to other types of stars.

When high mass stars die, they pass through a red giant stage, in which they swell to immense sizes. Shortly after the red giant phase, the stars explode in supernovae explosions. All of the elements in the universe that are heavier than helium are produced in these explosions. These important galactic events leave a small core of the original star, which can form a neutron star, a pulsar or a black hole.

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