Most Massive Star Ever Discovered, 265 Times The Sun’s Mass

Astronomers “really taken aback” by stellar behemoth.

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The most massive star ever found looms behind other young star types in an artist’s impression.

A newfound star has shattered the record as the most massive stellar monster ever seen, astronomers announced today.

Weighing in at a whopping 265 times the mass of our sun, the behemoth may have actually slimmed down since birth, when it likely tipped the scales at 320 times the sun’s mass.

The discovery could rewrite the laws of stellar physics, since it’s long been thought that stars beyond a certain mass would be too unstable to survive.

“We are really taken aback, because up until now the astronomical community at large has assumed that the upper size limit for stars would be around 150” times the mass of the sun, said study co-author Richard Parker, an astronomer at the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

“This giant could really revolutionize the way we think about how stars form and die in clusters and galaxies.”

(Related: “Most Massive Stellar Black Hole Found in Binary System.”)

Most Massive Star to Blow Itself Apart?

Parker’s team found the stellar monster in images taken with the European Southern Observatory‘s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The star is tucked inside a dense cluster of other hot, young, massive stars in one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud.

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The Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century

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A total solar eclipse is seen in Varanasi, India, Wednesday, July 22, 2009. The longest solar eclipse of the 21st century pitched a swath of Asia from India to China into near darkness Wednesday as millions gathered to watch the phenomenon. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Related article: Two killed in stampede during eclipse in India (China Daily)


Darkness falls in Asia during total eclipse, luring masses

State television in China broadcast this image of the eclipse.
State television in China broadcast this image of the eclipse.

(CNN) — The longest solar eclipse of the century cast a wide shadow for several minutes over Asia and the Pacific Ocean Wednesday, luring throngs of people outside to watch the spectacle.

Day turned into night, temperatures turned cooler in cities and villages teemed with amateur stargazers.

The total eclipse started in India on Wednesday morning and moved eastward across Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, China and parts of the Pacific. Millions cast their eyes towards the heavens to catch a rare view of the sun’s corona.

Cloud cover in some areas prevented people from fully savoring the phenomenon. Still, many were awed.

Tim O’Rourke, a 45-year-old freelance photographer from Detroit, Michigan, lives in Hong Kong but traveled up to Shanghai — touted as one of the best spots to watch the eclipse. Video Watch the ‘exceptional’ eclipse »

“It was pitch black like midnight,” said O’Rourke, standing in People’s Square with what appeared to be a crowd of thousands.

“Definitely not disappointed we came. Of course it would have been much better with nice weather, blue skies. But still it was a great experience, it was a lot of fun.” he said. Photo Viewing the eclipse in pictures »

Total eclipses occur about twice a year as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun on the same plane as Earth’s orbit. Wednesday’s event lasted up to more than six minutes in some places. Video Watch what a total solar eclipse entails »

In India, where an eclipse pits science against superstition, thousands took a dip in the Ganges River in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi to cleanse their souls, said Ajay Kumar Upadhyay, the district’s most senior official. Send us your photos of the eclipse

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