Thursday, July 22, 2010

Astronomers discover ‘monster’ star

By Alistair Keely, Press Association, The Independet/UK, July 21, 2010


AP

A visible-light image of the Tarantula nebula as seen with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope (left) along with a zoomed-in visible-light image from the Very Large Telescope (right)

Astronomers have discovered “monster” stars – whose size and brightness exceed what many scientists thought was possible.

Found within two young star clusters, NGC 3603 and RMC 136a, the stars weigh up to 300 times the mass of the Sun, a figure which doubles the previously accepted limit of solar mass.

A researcher at the University of Sheffield discovered the monster stars using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope.

The biggest star found, R136a1 within the R136a cluster, has a current mass of 265 solar masses, and it is thought its birthweight was as much as 320 times that of the Sun.

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