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A New Image of the R136a1 Star Show It Is Smaller Than Its Estimated Size

R136a1 had previously been observed to have a mass that ranges from 250 to 320 times that of the Sun

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

CHILE: The most detailed image yet taken of the most massive star known to mankind, R136a1, was produced by researchers using the 8.1-meter Gemini South Telescope in Chile.

According to research conducted by NOIRLab astronomer Venu M. Kalari, the star may not be as big as initially believed.

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More than 100 times as massive as the Sun, huge stars are produced in ways that astronomers still do not fully comprehend. Observing these stars is a significant barrier for scientists trying to solve this puzzle. These giants are often located in the star clusters’ heavily populated cores.

Since they exhaust their fuel stores in just a few million years, they likewise have a brief lifespan. In contrast, our Sun is less than halfway through its 10- billion-year life cycle.

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These particular enormous stars are challenging to discern due to their brief lifespan, location among tightly clustered stars, and great astronomical distances.

To capture the sharpest possible image of R136a1, researchers at the US National Science Foundation (NSF) stretched the capabilities of the Zorro instrument on the Gemini South telescope.

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The star is a component of the R136 star cluster, which is located in the center of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, approximately 160,000 light-years from Earth.

R136a1 had previously been observed to have a mass that ranges from 250 to 320 times that of the Sun. The latest discoveries found with Zorro, however, indicate that it might only be between 170 and 230 times the mass of the Sun.

R136a1 remains the most massive star known to science, even with the latest lower estimations.

The findings of the investigation will be published in a publication in The Astrophysical Journal. The most massive star we now know is not as huge as we had previously believed, according to our results.

According to Kalari, the paper’s lead author, the upper limit on stellar masses may also be lower than previously believed. This was stated in a press release from the NSF.

The Hubble Telescope and many ground-based telescopes have previously observed the R136 star cluster. Still, none of them were able to generate images that were crisp enough to distinguish individual stars in the cluster.

The astronomers overcame this problem by employing a method known as “speckle imaging,” in which they took a large number of brief exposure photographs of a bright object and painstakingly processed the data to remove much of the blurring.

This strategy and adaptive optics were combined to enable the study team to record the precise new observations of R136a1.

Also Read: NASA’s James Webb Telescope Shows Jupiter in a Whole Different Way

Author

  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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