Astronomers Discover Ionized Nebula around Largest Star in Known Universe

An international group of astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile to discover and observe an ionized nebula surrounding the red supergiant star W26.

W26 is located in the southern constellation of Ara about 16,000 light years from Earth. The star belongs to the most massive star cluster in our galaxy – Westerlund 1. The cluster is home to several hundred of thousand stars, and is the closest analogue to some of the truly massive star clusters seen in distant galaxies.

The red supergiant W26 is probably the largest star ever discovered, with a radius 1,500 times larger than the Sun and is also one of the most luminous red supergiants known.

When the astronomers studied the images of Westerlund 1 they spotted something unique. They discovered a huge cloud of glowing hydrogen gas around W26. Such clouds are ionized, meaning that the electrons have been stripped away from the atoms of hydrogen gas. The discovery is described in a paper appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv.org).

Full Article

Image credit: ESO / VPHAS+ Survey / N. Wright.


Posted 9 months ago with 461 notes
Tagged:Astronomyastrophysicsspaceionized nebulanebulaW26Westerlund 1sciencestars

  1. soadfreak reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage
  2. permashift reblogged this from spaceplasma
  3. rickyritarosa reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  4. knowscience reblogged this from spaceplasma
  5. sugarweasel reblogged this from reblokha
  6. reblokha reblogged this from spaceplasma
  7. advancing-titans reblogged this from stillanothermile
  8. going-going-gawne reblogged this from spaceplasma
  9. casua1 reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage
  10. fishouttawatah reblogged this from iaccidentallyallthephysics
  11. iaccidentallyallthephysics reblogged this from shychemist
  12. slympikkinz reblogged this from phroyd
  13. starquack reblogged this from zetarays
  14. zetarays reblogged this from kvallning
  15. aphasm reblogged this from phroyd
  16. tiffany1fugit reblogged this from kvallning
  17. auraliae reblogged this from shychemist
  18. kvallning reblogged this from shychemist
  19. phroyd reblogged this from shychemist
  20. shychemist reblogged this from astrogasmic
  21. zik0s reblogged this from great-concavity
  22. great-concavity reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  23. heyhowyoudoin13 reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage
  24. sorrel-ly reblogged this from anndruyan
  25. somepeoplejustwanttobenoticed reblogged this from astrogasmic
  26. whackingtoaster reblogged this from astrogasmic
  27. astrogasmic reblogged this from istellar
  28. lisemeitner reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage
  29. colebeenjammin reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage
  30. ontheshoresofinfinity reblogged this from thenewenlightenmentage