Sunday, August 8, 2021

Cosmic rarity: researchers identify the most massive star

 STAR RMC 136a1

 RMC 136a1 or R136a1 is a Wolf-Rayet star at the center of the star cluster RCM 136, in the Tarantula Nebula.  With an estimated mass of 265 times the solar mass, it is the most massive star known.  During its birth, its mass was even greater, estimated at 320 times the solar mass.  Its effective temperature is 53 000 K.

 RMC 136a1 is located at a distance of 165,000 light-years from Earth, embedded in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  Compared to the Sun, it would be about 35.4 times larger and 8.7 million times brighter.

 It is part of the R136 super cluster near the center of Golden 30 (the Tarantula Nebula) in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  Interestingly, R136a1 is not the biggest star in terms of volume;  this prize currently belongs to UY Scuti, who has approximately 1708 sun rays.

 Unlike humans, stars are born heavy and lose weight with age.  A little over a million years old, the R136a1 star is now middle-aged and has gone through a process of intense weight loss.  According to the researcher, much of the mass of this superstar has already been dispersed, and its current mass must be equivalent to 265 times that of the Sun.

 brilliant location

 NGC 3603 is approximately 22,000 light-years from the Sun and functions as a cosmic nursery, where stars quickly form from the nebulous ring of gas and dust.  RMC 136a, in turn, lies within the Tarantula nebula that is within the Large Magellanic Cloud – a galaxy neighboring our Milky Way.

 giant formation

 There are two hypotheses for the formation of stars of this size: they really were born huge or small stars came together to produce them.  If the luminous giant replaced the Sun at the center of our solar system, the earth year would be just three weeks old.  Besides, not even sunken in sunscreen: the star would bathe the Earth in intense ultraviolet radiation that would make life on our planet impossible.

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