October 1, 2022

Wire Service Canada

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The biggest star in the universe

It is hidden in deep space, and is located in the center of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud: luminous giant Which has attracted the attention of scientists for years now has clearer, clearer and more detailed properties. To be able to understand its secrets, astronomers and astrophysicists have used sophisticated tools, trying not to rule out any hypotheses and, let’s face it, also making a mistake about its true nature.

Today, however, the veil of mystery that surrounds it appears to be waning: now we know for sure that this giant is in fact huge star. In fact, to be honest, it does exist The biggest star everAt least among those who revealed themselves to man and became known to the eyes of scholars.

The story of the luminous giant

But let’s go in order. It was 1960 when a group of astronomers from the Radcliffe Observatory in Pretoria discovered one A strange, powerful and stimulating light, imposes itself majestically among the star phantoms in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The brilliance of this light was enough to make its way back Clusters of star dust And to dislodge the scientists who made a mistake in classifying its origin, for the lack of more accurate tools at their disposal.

Yes, because initially, the luminous giant was classified as a “possible multiple star system”. It must be said that the error was also justified by the fact that this huge luminous being was in a position that was characteristic of it intense star formation Thus, it was quite natural for scientists to imagine that the light came from a group of at least 100 stars, given the extreme brightness.

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Only 19 years later, in 1979, the luminous giant returned to the center of the scientific debate, with several groups of scientists who, depending on the blurring of the images, began to argue that more should be known and investigated from year to year, with all the techniques available.

The massive star hypothesis

In 1985, scientists began to get closer to the truth. The luminous giant, whose name is R1361, has been “explored” by default and has become the subject of various opinions. The most popular is the one who gave it a rating huge star And to confirm this thesis two scientists, Weigelt and Beier, used the speckle interferometry technique. Confirmation of this classification and privacy of this special star It came in the 1990s, after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

However, doubts remain: how big is this giant? All clues indicated that its mass is greater than 300 times more than us Sun And that if the hypothesis (impossible) had entered our system, its magnitude would obscure our parent star. A real “beast”, which is also a “young” one: it was formed less than a million years ago.

The truth about R1361

Thanks to the team of researchers observing the sky with the Gemini Southern Telescope in Chile, the past few weeks have been crucial in revealing the truth (or at least the current truth) about R1361. The star would be massive and would be the largest in the universe, but in fact its mass would be “only” between 170 and 230 times larger than the sun.

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This discovery will change a few things, including the fact that the maximum limit for massive stars may be smaller than previously thought. However, the fact that R1361 is one of the most interesting and luxurious celestial bodies in our sky does not change: its luminosity is 6,200,000 times higher than the brightness of our Sun!