Medescape

Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Hubble Captures Two Ginormous Stars

A new picture from the Hubble Space Telescope shows two massive stars, WR 25 and Tr16-244, located in the open cluster Trumpler 16. This cluster lies within the Carina Nebula, approximately 7500 light years from earth. The nebula is home to many massive stars, including Eta Carinae, a supermassive luminous blue variable star with a luminosity four million times that of our sun, and a mass of 100-150 solar masses. WR 25 and Tr16-244 are not as big as Eta Carinae, but they are still pretty massive. 

WR 25 is located near the centre of the picture (the most blue of the big stars). It is binary star, and the largest of the two stars is a Wolf-Rayet star with a mass of about 50 solar masses. Wolf-Rayet stars are stars with a mass of >20 solar masses, and they loose their mass extremely rapidly due to a strong solar wind, typically about nine orders of magnitude more rapidly than our sun. The smaller star in the binary system is thought to have a mass of about half that of the other. 

Tr16-244 is located just to the left and up from WR 25, and is the third brightest star in the picture. The second brightest is a low-mass star much closer to earth (and thus it appears more luminous). This is a triple star, two of which are so close to each other that it took a while to determine they were in fact two separate stars. The third uses hundreds of thousands of years to orbit the first two. 

These new observations were made as part of a project led by Jesús Maíz Apellániz from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain, and consist of astronomers from the US, Argentina, Spain and Chile.

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November 27, 2008 - Posted by | Astronomy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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