To look at the violent dying of a really large star is uncommon

To look at the violent dying of a really large star is uncommon
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Artist impression of the pink large star VY Canis Majoris. VY Canis Majoris is positioned about 3,009 light-years from Earth and might be probably the most large star within the Milky Manner. Picture Credit score: NASA / ESA / Hubble / R. Humphreys, College of Minnesota / J. Olmsted, STScI /

By tracing molecular emissions in outflow across the pink large star VY Canis Majoris, astronomers obtained the primary detailed map of the star’s environment, which sheds mild on the mechanisms concerned within the excessive large star’s last levels.

A staff of astronomers led by the College of Arizona has created an in depth 3D picture of a dying large star. The staff, led by UArizona researchers Ambesh Singh and Lucy Ziurys, tracked the distribution, instructions and velocities of quite a lot of particles round a pink large star referred to as VY Canis Majoris.

Their findings, introduced on the 240th assembly of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California on June 13, 2022, present insights, on an unprecedented scale, into the processes related to the dying of large stars. Robert Humphreys of the College of Minnesota and Anita Richards of the College of Manchester within the UK collaborated with collaborators.

Excessive large stars referred to as hypergiants are very uncommon, and just a few are identified about them.[{” attribute=””>Milky Way. Examples include Betelgeuse, the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, and NML Cygni, also known as V1489 Cygni, in the constellation Cygnus. Unlike stars with lower masses – which are more likely to puff up once they enter the red giant phase but generally retain a spherical shape – hypergiants tend to experience substantial, sporadic mass loss events that form complex, highly irregular structures composed of arcs, clumps, and knots.

Located about 3,009 light-years from Earth, VY Canis Majoris – or VY CMa, for short – is a pulsating variable star in the slightly southern constellation of Canis Major. Spanning anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 astronomical units (with 1 AU being the average distance between Earth and the sun) VY CMa is possibly the most massive star in the Milky Way, according to Ziurys.

“Think of it as Betelgeuse on steroids,” said Ziurys, a Regents Professor with joint appointments in UArizona Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Steward Observatory, both part of the College of Science. “It is much larger, much more massive and undergoes violent mass eruptions every 200 years or so.”

The team chose to study VY CMa because it is one of the best examples of these types of stars.

“We are particularly interested in what hypergiant stars do at end of their lives,” said Singh, a fourth-year doctoral student in Ziurys’ lab. “People used to think these massive stars simply evolve into supernovae explosions, but we are no longer sure about that.”

“If that were the case, we should see many more supernovae explosions across the sky,” Ziurys added. “We now think they might quietly collapse into black holes, but we don’t know which ones end their lives like that, or why that happens and how.”

Previous imaging of VY CMa with

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