• Home
  • Science
  • Science News
  • Researchers Estimate Size of Largest Known Star Through Sharpest Optical Image Ever Captured

Researchers Estimate Size of Largest Known Star Through Sharpest Optical Image Ever Captured

Thanks to Gemini South's Zorro instrument, which uses a technique called speckle imaging, scientists now have the sharpest-ever image of R136a1. 

Researchers Estimate Size of Largest Known Star Through Sharpest Optical Image Ever Captured

Photo Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA

The star R136a1 captured by the Zorro imager (left) and the Hubble Space telescope

Highlights
  • R136a1 is part of the R136 cluster, located in the Large Magellanic Cloud
  • The R136 cluster is massive and is home to many bright 'newborn' stars
  • Previous R136a1 images from NASA/ESA telescope were not clear 

The distinction of being the most massive star ever discovered is held by R136a1, a behemoth star that is around 150 to 200 times the mass of the Sun. R136a1 is part of the R136 cluster, which is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. In a new study, a team of astronomers have observed this cluster and, in the process, examined the largest known star. Finding out the upper limit of the stars is crucial for astronomers in understanding their cycles, the history of the galaxy, and much more. 

Like the star it hosts, the cluster too is massive and has many bright newborn stars in it. The team has analysed the sharpest ever optical picture of the cluster and estimated the mass of some of its stars. These included the large R136a1, whose mass they estimated to be as high as 200 times that of the Sun.

Previously, astronomers would observe the cluster — which includes R136a1 — using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope along with ground-based telescopes. However, the images from these telescopes lask the sharpness to identify all the individual members of the cluster. Thanks to Gemini South's Zorro instrument, which uses a technique called speckle imaging, scientists now have the sharpest-ever images of the R136a1 so far. 

The images captured by the Zorro imager, suggest that R136a1's size could be significantly lower than what was estimated before. Besides its size, the surface temperature of R136a1 is also eight times that of the Sun and has a radius forty times bigger. 

By gaining an understanding of how common these giant stars are, astronomers can unravel the mechanism behind their formation. It requires a large amount of gas to collapse in a brief period to form a giant star this big. In addition, besides their complex mechanism, these stars also don't live for long and thus become too hard to spot for astronomers. Examining the R136a1 star can hence provide an insight into the history of galaxies.


Do the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 offer enough over last year's models? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Further reading: R136a1, Largest Star, Gemini South, Zorro
Oppo's ColorOS 13 With Aquamorphic Design, Improved Multi-Screen Connect Unveiled: All Details
VLC Media Player Blocked in India Since February for Unknown Reasons, VideoLAN Says
Share on Facebook Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment google-newsGoogle News
 
 

Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2022. All rights reserved.