Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Huge stars in space - The biggest one yet

Today's astronomy news are all about scientists detecting the most massive star of all time, and they have named it R136a1, not very original name if I may add.

If you thought that our Sun is enormous you better think again because this star has a mass about 265 times that of our own Sun, and to make things even more interesting scientists believed that at the time when this star was born its mass was even bigger, at about 320 times that of the Sun's mass.

The biggest star in the universe - Our Sun looks so small compared to this massive star.

Professor Paul Crowther from UK's Sheffield University said that "if it (this star) replaced the Sun in our Solar System, it would outshine our Sun by as much as the Sun currently outshines the full Moon.

This star as many stars before them, and even more after them will one day explode as supernova to seed the Universe with heavy elements.

It is also very interesting to add that astronomers also detected several stars with surface temperatures over 40,000 degrees - more than seven times hotter than our Sun.

Scientists are also convinced that no planet can exist in orbit around such huge stars. Professor Crowther explained this on very funny way by saying that "planets take longer to form than these stars take to live and die, and even if there were planets, there would be no astronomers on them because the night sky would be almost as bright as the day in these clusters".

Previously observed huge stars had been seen to get as big as 150 times the mass of our Sun but these latest findings will no doubt raise interesting questions about upper limits of size these colossal stars have.

Many scientists support the theory that stars must have some physical barrier of their growth because their growth should come to a moment where the pressure from all the radiation emitted by a stellar behemoth pushes back against any further infall of gas and dust.

Most astronomers will agree that very early Universe has lots of these massive stars, and when these colossal stars blew apart, their cataclysmic demise was so violent they may not have left behind a remnant core of material as is often the case following a supernova; or even a black hole which is another common consequence, too. Instead, they simply have dumped all their contents back into space, dispersing heavy elements like iron equivalent to the mass of 10 of our Suns.