Universe’s biggest known star discovered by British astronomers

By Tom Chivers

The heaviest known star – with a mass 320 times greater than the Sun’s – has been discovered at the edge of our galaxy by British astronomers.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield found the stellar giant – named R136a1 – using the European southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The star is located in the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small “satellite” galaxy which orbits the Milky Way.

Previously, the heaviest known stars were around 150 times the mass of the Sun, and this was believed to be close to the cosmic size limit.

( Photo Telegraph )

As stars get more massive the amount of energy created in their cores grows at a faster rate than the force of gravity which holds them together. The torrents of energy produced eventually become so powerful that the stars are torn apart.

This is known as the “Eddington Limit”, after the British physicist Arthur Eddington who, in 1919, proved Einstein’s theory of relativity by showing that light is bent by gravity.

It was believed that the Eddington Limit was reached at around 150 solar masses.

However, R136a1 has been measured at 265 solar masses. Since heavy stars rapidly lose mass as they grow older by converting it into energy, R136a1 has already lost 20 per cent of its mass in its short million-year life. It is believed originally to have been a colossal 320 solar masses.

The Sun, by comparison, has been burning for 4.57 billion years, and has converted only 0.03 per cent of its mass into energy. Read more at Telegraph.

2 Responses to Universe’s biggest known star discovered by British astronomers

  1. Jmich says:

    Einstein was right about the shortcomings of Quantum Mechanics and so therefore String Theory is also the incorrect approach. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity. This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

  2. Jmich says:

    You may be interested in this.
    Einstein was right about the shortcomings of Quantum Mechanics and so therefore String Theory is also the incorrect approach. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity. This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

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