Astronomers “really taken aback” by stellar behemoth.
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.”
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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.