Universe's biggest known star discovered

British scientists have found a giant star, 320 times the size of the Sun, labelling it the biggest ever discovered.

Universe's biggest known star discovered

British scientists have found a giant star, 320 times the size of the Sun, labelling it the biggest ever discovered.

The UK-led team behind the incredible discovery - headed by Professor Paul Crowther - has also said the giant star is around 10 million times brighter than the Sun.

The scientists used the European Southern Observatory's aptly-named Very Large Telescope and Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope. The find was made during a study of two clusters of stars in a galaxy next to our own solar system called the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The star, named R136a1, is thought to have started off with a mass of up to 320 times that of the Sun and the new discovery has doubled the previously accepted limit of solar mass.

Although it has since shed some of its weight, it is so powerful that if it replaced the Sun as the centre of our solar system, it would make life on Earth impossible because of the strength of its ultraviolet radiation.

R136a1 was discovered as part of a series of massive stars found in two young star clusters by a team of astronomers led by Professor Paul Crowther of Sheffield University in northern England.

"Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age," said Crowther. "R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program."

The research, conducted by scientists from Britain, Malaysia and Germany, was published in scientific journal The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Agencies

Last Mod: 22 Temmuz 2010, 10:13
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