The biggest star known so far is dying, and eventually will explode, astronomers have announced, according to AFP. By using a telescope from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, astronomers have studied the star W26.
Located about 16,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation Ara, the star has a diameter of 3.000 bigger than the Sun. W26 observed for the first time in 1998, it is a red giant. Typically, the stars of this type have to live only a few million years before the nuclear fuel runs out and explode.
According to the study published in the journal “Monthly Notices” of the Royal Astronomical Society in Britain, W26 becomes more unstable and loses its outside layers, which is one of the signs that announce the death of the star.
Into a press release, the Royal Astronomical Society showed that W26 is “the biggest star known so far”. Observations suggest that “W26 is nearing the end of its life and that eventually will explode as a supernova.
The star is surrounded by a cloud of bright hydrogen composed of atoms that have lost their electrons. “The presence of the cloud and the high stellar brightness suggests that W26 is a red giant which loss a lot of weight”, shown in the study.
Stars with masses tens of times larger than that of the sun live very short and dramatic lives compared to their less massive siblings,
scientists said in a statement.
Some of the most massive stars have lifetimes of less than a few million years before they exhaust their nuclear fuel and explode as supernovas. At the very ends of their lives these stars become highly unstable and eject a considerable amount of material from their outer envelopes.