Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Newsy: New, Massive Star Discovered

It’s been called “stellar behemoth”, “monster ball” and even “scorcher”. What is it? It’s what scientists are calling the heaviest star ever found.
“Experts say the star has a mass over 265 times the size of the sun... and is more than a million years old.” (MSNBC)
The Guardian reports this type of star has an odd life… a life that always ends in suicide: “They are the most colossal stars ever seen and live short, bright, lives in faraway reaches of space before exploding in a blaze of glory. Were it to replace our own star, the intensity of the rays would sterilise the Earth leaving it lifeless.”
Dailytech attempted to explain why the star lives such a ‘short’ lives using a weight-loss analogy. The blog quotes northern England’s University of Sheffield’s lead astrophysicist: “‘R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program, shedding a fifth of its initial mass over that time, or more than fifty solar masses.’”
Whatever diet these stars are on, it seems to be working. National Geographic reports the star used to be much, much bigger: “… the behemoth may have actually slimmed down since birth, when it likely tipped the scales at 320 times the sun's mass… the record-breaking star is so massive that it burns its hydrogen fuel at an unprecedented rate.”
But the Christian Science Monitor says the claims might be too good to be true: “Others have suggested that the team has detected very tightly packed clusters with stars too close to resolve individually.” 
In other words, Christian Science Monitor is suggesting it might not be the ‘behemoth’ scientists think... it could just be a bunch of stars so close together it merely looks like a massive star.
So what do you think of the new discovery? Exciting? Or just another space case? 

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