Look At These "Monster" Stars Just Spotted In The Tarantula Nebula
Together, they are 30 million times brighter than the sun. Also: super pretty.
This is a star cluster called R136 in the Tarantula Nebula.
The image was taken using the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Tarantula Nebula is about 170,000 light years away from Earth and sits within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way. The R136 star cluster is home to lots of really bright and hot stars and is what makes the Tarantula Nebula so visible in the night sky.
Now scientists have discovered that it contains nine "monster" stars that are more than 100 times bigger than the sun and, together, outshine the sun "by a factor of 30 million", according to the European Space Agency. They also found dozens more stars that are at least 50 times as big as the sun.
The monster stars are technically classed as "very massive" and are only ever found in the youngest star clusters because they don't live for more than two or three million years. We only know about the existence of a few of these stars in our galaxy.
Some had thought that very massive stars were made when smaller stars merged in close-together star systems. But how often those mergers happen can't, as far as we know, account for all of the stars just found in R136 – so now scientists think they may be able to form during normal star formation processes.
A scientific paper about the stars was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.