I am just-now getting around to discussing this topic. The subject emerged durng the summer, yet talk about it has been random. I got tired of hearing about Sarah Palin trying to run for President (she could be a female W, so watch out, people. I see Obama’s numbers falling, too…), and reading texts, so I did a little online browsing.
Regarding topics of astronomy, a topic arose in regard to something that had been observed during the summer. It seems that sky-eying viewers have spotted a distant star that seems to defy reason. It is enormous, even by the definitions of a star. This one in particular is 265 times as massive as The Sun!
It is located within The Tarantula Nebula of The Large Magellanic Cloud. This is one of the suburb galaxies of our Milky Way, which is roughly fifty parsecs away. Astronomers whom have been viewing this region of space have labeled the star as R136a1.
This star is 100 times the mass of the largest star that has been discovered, so far. R136a1 is over one million times as brilliant as The Sun, and it is estimated to have been nearly 300 times The Sun’s mass during it’s lifetime. This is twice the size of what astronomers thought was the limit of sizes for stars!
It is believed that R136a1 is too large to sustain itself for an extended length of time. Researchers think that it will explode in what is being called a pair-instability supernova. This is when massive and supermassive stars have pressure drops within their cores. Atomic collisions increase, causing an explosion of the star that does not result in a remaining black hole, merely left-over debris particles.
Studying astronomers believe that R136a1 will be the largest star ever discovered with our current technology. Already, they have deduced that the star is 265 times as massive as The Sun. It likely was 320 times as massive over a million years ago, when it was born.
Cygnus OB2-12 was the most luminous star prior to this observation. It is a blue hypergiant, more than six million times The Sun’s brightness. It is situated within our Milky Way, yet at a distance of roughly 5,000 light years away. Cygnus OB2-12 is the standout star of the constellation Cygnus, having a cluster of stars named for it in a region called The Cyg OB2 Association!
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