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The most massive known star may be smaller than previously thought, the image confirms

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In Science and Space: The most massive star known in the universe has just obtained the best close-up, and it reveals the star may be smaller than astronomers previously thought.

“Astronomers still do not fully understand how the most massive stars – 100 times the mass of the Sun – form,” according to a statement from NOIRLab of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the world’s largest satellite transport company. Gemini South Telescope. “A particularly difficult part of the puzzle is obtaining observations of these giants, which often inhabit the densely populated cores of dust-covered star clusters.”

Astronomers using the Gemini South Telescope in Chile have imaged the star R136a1, located about 160,000 light-years from Earth at the center of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion to the Milky Way. Galaxy. Their observations suggest that the massive star (and others like it) may not be as massive as previously thought.

Gemini South’s Zorro instrument uses a technique known as spotting, which combines thousands of short-exposure images of stars deep in the universe to remove the blurring effect of starlight in the atmosphere. sphere of the earth. This technique allowed astronomers to more precisely separate the luminosity of R136a1 from its nearby companions, resulting in the sharpest image ever of the massive star.

Massive stars like R136a1 grow rapidly, burning through their fuel reserves in just a few million years before burning to death in supernova explosions, seeding galaxies with the heavy elements responsible. responsible for the formation of new stars and planets. This is the fate of most stars 150 times the mass of the sun. However, if the stellar mass is smaller than previously thought, supernovas may also be rarer than expected, the researchers note.

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