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Monster Hypergiant Star Discovered

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Space 94

astroengine writes "A gargantuan star, measuring 1,300 times the size of our sun, has been uncovered 12,000 light-years from Earth — it is one of the ten biggest stars known to exist in our galaxy. The yellow hypergiant even dwarfs the famous stellar heavyweight Betelgeuse by 50 percent. While its hulking mass may be impressive, astronomers have also realized that HR 5171 is a double star with a smaller stellar sibling physically touching the surface of the larger star as they orbit one another. 'The new observations also showed that this star has a very close binary partner, which was a real surprise,' said Olivier Chesneau, of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur in Nice, France. 'The two stars are so close that they touch and the whole system resembles a gigantic peanut.'"

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94 comments

imagine the upkeep? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467207)

we cannot even manage our tiny free land freeloader promised land without having to kill each other because of fake history religion money heroes news science 'weather etc...?

Re:imagine the upkeep? (-1, Offtopic)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46467259)

Talking of Heroes, NBC is bringing it back in 2015. Share and enjoy!

never ending WMD on credit holycost never ends? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467451)

not made for tv heroes http://www.youtube.com/results... [youtube.com]

Slashdot only allows anonymous users.........

Can't wait until the merge (2)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 4 months ago | (#46467251)

and explode.

Re:Can't wait until the merge (3, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#46467437)

and then the hot star on star action will be over in a bright flash.

Re:Can't wait until the merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467621)

Where is rule 34 when you need it?

Re:Can't wait until the merge (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46467837)

If fell into a black hole.

Re:Can't wait until the merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468035)

If fell into a black hole.

MMmm, inappropriate star touching

Re: Can't wait until the merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468821)

I find this comment difficult to masturbate to.

Re: Can't wait until the merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469127)

Difficult, but not impossible.

*sigh* ... *zip*

Re: Can't wait until the merge (1)

Paul server guy (1128251) | about 4 months ago | (#46474199)

Difficult, but not impossible.

*sigh* ... *zip*

And if I didn't have a rule against up-modding ACs, this would have gotten a point...
LOL!

Re: Can't wait until the merge (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | about 4 months ago | (#46469367)

If fell into a black hole

Rule 34, remember?

Re: Can't wait until the merge (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#46486477)

once you go black hole, you never go back.

Re:Can't wait until the merge (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 4 months ago | (#46468299)

It's not the size, it's how you use it!

Re:Can't wait until the merge (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 4 months ago | (#46469005)

The moon is traveling further and further away from the earth rather than into it ..

Re:Can't wait until the merge (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 4 months ago | (#46469599)

and explode.

Silly you, after mergers things downsize

and then executives cut themselves big bonuses

size? (4, Insightful)

BradMajors (995624) | about 4 months ago | (#46467271)

Is it 1,300 times as massive, has 1,300 times the volume, or what?

Re:size? (0)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 4 months ago | (#46467323)

1300 times as massive.

Re:size? (4, Informative)

luna69 (529007) | about 4 months ago | (#46467453)

> 1300 times as massive.

No. Original paper says ~39 Msun. Radius is ~1300. A star massing 1300 Msun couldn't hold itself together, both in terms of gravitational and outward radiation pressure.
Source: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.2628... [arxiv.org]

Re:size? (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 4 months ago | (#46468667)

That's for the system.

Could an astronomer explain the \( 39_{--22}^{+40} \) notation? Seems a pretty big error margin, but I can't tell if it means "between 17 and 79 solar masses" or "between 22 and 40 solar masses"?

Re:size? (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 4 months ago | (#46468849)

The 22 and 40 look like lower and upper bounds. In section 6.1 of the paper, it says, "we infer the lowest current mass of the system to be 22±5 [solar masses]" . They mention this value comes from a calculation based on Kepler's 3rd law. So it looks like the lower bound comes from orbital mechanics based on the orbit of the companion star and the upper bound of 40 comes from their interferometry observations and modeling of that data, but they consider it more likely that the true value is closer to the higher value.

not an astronomer, but... (1)

zakaryah (1344891) | about 4 months ago | (#46468965)

From the paper, it looks like that is a confidence interval - see the first full paragraph on page 12. I think it means that the most likely estimate is 39M, and with some confidence they put the range at 22M to 40M.

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469563)

1300 Msun is 1300 x mass_of_the_sun, right? Not 1300 Mega (mass_of_sun)?

Re:size? (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 4 months ago | (#46471095)

A gargantuan star, measuring 1,300 times the size of our sun

At 39M , It is certain that it is going to end up in a spectacular black hole .

Re:size? (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 4 months ago | (#46471747)

I think this star would be a good candidate to end with an "un nova" and go straight to a black hole instead of exploding.

Better info at ESO (3, Informative)

Bl4d3 (697638) | about 4 months ago | (#46467329)

1,300 times the diameter apparently -> http://www.eso.org/public/news... [eso.org]

Re:Better info at ESO (0)

BradMajors (995624) | about 4 months ago | (#46467389)

OK. That means it is 1150346509 times the size, if size is meant to mean volume.

Re:size? (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 4 months ago | (#46467341)

Size: implies volume.

However, the article's author throws around massive and mass as if they are also measuring the mass of the star "50% more massive than heavyweight Betelgeuse" - I don't think the actual astronomers are talking about mass...

Re:size? (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 months ago | (#46467477)

However, the article's author throws around massive and mass as if they are also measuring the mass of the star "50% more massive than heavyweight Betelgeuse" - I don't think the actual astronomers are talking about mass...

Astronomers almost always measure stars by mass, both because it's more informative - mass determines things like fusion rate and lifespan - and because volume of a star is both hard to measure from distance and not really well defined, since stars are made of gas and thus don't have a well-defined surface.

That said, this particular article specifically says "1300 times the diameter of the Sun", which gives it about 7 million times the volume of the Sun.

Re:size? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 4 months ago | (#46467667)

V = 4/3 r cubed...

1300x diameter = 1300x radius.

1300 cubed is 2,200,000,000 - isn't it?

Re:size? (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 4 months ago | (#46468655)

V = 4/3 r cubed...

R/r=D/d=1300

1300 cubed is 2,200,000,000 - isn't it?

Here I ftfy!

Re:size? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 4 months ago | (#46468671)

You didn't get the pi to show, either.

Re:size? (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 4 months ago | (#46468735)

no I did not I assumed that "..." in the first line did that as what this funny number actually is, makes here no difference. Never liked it anyway.

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467695)

more like 2 billion: https://www.google.com/search?q=1300^3

Re:size? (2)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#46469435)

Correct, with decades of measurements it was estimated to be about 40 solar masses, but now that is being revised thanks to the smaller star.

It is shedding lots of mass and is not very compact, and appears to be fluctuating internally and exploding externally. It is likely near the end of its life. So the outer shell appears to be 1315 times the diameter of Sol, but coming in at 40 Msun most of that is probably fairly sparse.

Note that "end of its life" for a star is a really long time. At that size their life is relatively short for a star, about 5 million years, so it could possibly have a half million years left. Generations from now we could have interstellar ships visiting the star for additional research. I mean, even if it takes a thousand years for us to get the technology for fast interstellar travel plus the 12,000 light years of distance, the star will likely still be in its final stages. As for what will happen, nobody knows. It might collapse as a supernova, but astronomers can only speculate at the conditions that cause supernova; there have been no observed supernova in our galaxy since 1604, and the telescope data from that time doesn't exactly tell us details about the size and type of star involved. We can make educated guesses based on supernovae in distant galaxies, but those also are rather sparse on pre-collapse details.

Supernova is only one possible outcome. It might eventually become a blue supergiant. It might eventually become a blue variable. If it eventually collapses the mass is near enough the 40 Msun boundary that both neutron stars and black holes are possible options. If it eventually collapses to a black hole quickly it could skip the dramatic show, it would just visibly vanish. If it eventually collapses slowly a supernova is possible, as are less energetic options. There is even the option of a double collapse, first to neutron star then to black hole, which possibly could result in a hypernova. It is also possible that a series of partial collapses could cause pieces to explode and break up rather than collapse, making a fun fireworks show lasting for ages. But really there is insufficient data; there are not enough data points to know what is going to happen. It might be fun to speculate, but like most stars we probably won't see anything interesting happen in our lifetimes. With our measly 100 year lives we can only record the tiniest window of the lifetime of stars.

Re:size? (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 4 months ago | (#46477711)

you do realize interstellar transport is impossible right? even if you use atomic metals to power it it would take roughly a third the power of the largest atomic bomb to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/34180-energy-needed-to-reach-99-c/ [scienceforums.net] . to accelerate and then decelerate from light speed is unrealistic. not to mention the problem of needing working force fields, as hitting anything is the same as a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_kill_vehicle [wikipedia.org] without force shields nothing works, and again you'd need all the uranium in the whole solar system to speed and decelerate a small ship with humans on board, or perhaps send machine grown clones at the end of the journey to save on power consumption.

Re:size? (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#46478385)

you do realize interstellar transport is impossible right?

Not at all. In fact, we had all the tools for interstellar travel decades ago. It will take a long, long, long time for our machines to reach another star, but they have more than sufficient escape velocity and nothing between them and their eventual destinations.

Your other links are based on rules set up by special relativity. Many people assume physics stopped at Newtonian physics in the 17th century, or they stop at Einstein's theories which are over a century old.

Physics has come quite a long way since Einstein's 1905 STR and 1916 GR papers. Over the past century we've learned that things can escape from black holes, that the speed of light in a vacuum may actually be variable rather than constant, that field theory provides a more accurate picture of the Universe, and that field distortions can theoretically allow faster than light travel without violating special relativity or general relativity.

Riding field waves is not only theoretically possible, recent studies like Gravity Probe B have successfully done it in passive tests. Modern field theory work allow for both the Alcubierre drive and the Casimir Vacuum. Both are being heavily researched. Initial critics of the Alcubierre drive claimed it needed more energy than all the measured mass of the known Universe, but those have been thoroughly debunked --- Gravity Probe B rode such a wave passively just by being in orbit around the Earth. Building our own portable gravity wave generators is still a problem, but probably not unsolvable. Present research by people like Sonny White's suggest using a very thin, narrow field you could make something similar to a water skier riding a wake with relatively little power requirements. Sonny White is leading teams at NASA working on both reactionless drives based on quantum vacuums and preliminary tests for detecting the field waves needed for an Alcubierre drive. With gravitational frame dragging recently being confirmed, having a bigger ship riding a gravitational wave certainly seems plausible. It may take us a several hundred years to figure out how to do it, but each new experiment tends to suggest FTL travel is possible within the next few centuries.

Remember that powered flight started with 16th-century experiments and wasn't realized until almost 400 years later. We are only beginning our experiments in space travel and probably have several hundred years of research ahead of us before major breakthroughs. So far the wave riding experiments have reinforced that it is possible, and using them to accomplish FTL travel doesn't violate any of the measured rules, including causality.

Re:size? (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 4 months ago | (#46478599)

you seem to be under the impression that space is a hard vacuum it is not, modern observatories including space ones have hinted that there is a lot of space dust that hasn't coalesced into larger bodies. there are a lot of small, medium, and large space debris in the way. without a force shield even if the warp drive disintegrates the small stuff a pool ball sized debris is going to be rather like an atomic blast no force shield no ftl travel. and if people are going onboard they are going to have to do something that hasn't been done in a long time, have a stable pool of healthy reproducing children unless of course we simply use robots up until we 'seed' planets with cloned human beings.

given the age of the universe as measured by xray telescopes it is quite unlikely that life didn't evolve long before humans came around, and that those beings could have developed technology to seed the universe and had their planets freeze up or burn up. as the galactic habitable zone shifted through the years.

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46478909)

Initial critics of the Alcubierre drive claimed it needed more energy than all the measured mass of the known Universe, but those have been thoroughly debunked --- Gravity Probe B rode such a wave passively just by being in orbit around the Earth.

You are conflating so many things together that are unrelated, using inappropriate terminology, and saying some things that are flat out wrong, that I wouldn't know where to begin to slowly explain, or if it is even worth the risk considering your so far off to either be a troll or invoking Poe's law.

Re:size? (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 4 months ago | (#46498275)

and because volume of a star is both hard to measure from distance and not really well defined, since stars are made of gas and thus don't have a well-defined surface.

Also, this star (at about 2 197 000 000 [google.com] times the volume of the sun, but only at most ~39 times the mass) must have an extremely low specific density. AFAICT even the average density is very close to what we would call a vacuum here on Earth at 7.87 × 10^-5 kg / m^3 [google.com] , and the mass is not evenly distributed, making it even more sparse for most of its volume.

This surprises me a little, did I make any mistakes?

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467465)

They're talking about the radius, although it's clear that at least one of the reporters this filtered through doesn't understand this. Stars can NOT exceed 120~250 times the mass of the sun, they'll blow off any mass in excess of this while they're forming (exact number is still up for debate, but it's nowhere near 1300 times the mas of the sun.)

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467481)

It has to be radius.

VY Canis Majoris is bigger, and only 17 +/- 8 Solar masses.

Pistol Star is much heavier, 80-130 Solar Masses and much smaller 306 solar radii.

Re: size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468885)

Why is everyone mentioning Canis Majoris as soon as stars mentioned??? It's a dwarf compared to the true giant UY Scuti and not even in the Top 5.

You suck as math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469243)

Hey Asshole,

And a 17:14 ratio is hardly dwarfing by stellar standards, around a 25% difference.

Was the radius of either of the stars in the GP actually mentioned?

I don't think so.

Now go back to jerking off the in your parents basement, Asshole.

Re: You suck as math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469787)

Canis Majoris has a radius of about 1400 r_sun. UY Scuti a radius of slightly more than 1700 r_sun. That's a difference who can't even comprehend. 300 times the sun is a giant on it's own. UY Scuti has 5 BILLION times the volume of the sun. Canis Majoris IS a dwarf compated to this. 25% is huge. A 1.35 metre man IS a dwarf next to 1.80 metre man despite just 25% smaller. Shit your mouth hole.

And the only ASSHOLE here is you you brain dead son of a mongrel you motherfucker bastard bloody shit asshole. Piss of, and eat shit. Away you three inch fool. And I don't mean your kiddy sausage. That one is too tiny for a microscope.

Re: You suck as math (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 4 months ago | (#46470869)

I can infer that you're a climatologist, not an astronomer.

Re: You suck as math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46471151)

Glad I ruined your day you illiterate whelp.

At astronomical scales, those two stars are fucking close to the same size; if they have overlapping error bars they might as well be.

1420 ± 120 for VY Canis Majoris

1,708±192 for UY Scuti

And comparing the 17:14 ratio of stars to those of 2 human beings standing next to each other isn't even remotely the same; you ignorant little fuck.

And yes, big number are pretty impressive; on paper. But changing the units certainly puts things into perspective:

6.6AU±0.0.56AU of VY

7.9AU±0.89AU UY

0.0047AU Sun

The sun is only large by the limited scale of your parents basement, and our tiny rock bound existence. By astronomical standards; it's a pixel.

Now go back to your call center job.

Re:size? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467555)

Is it 1,300 times as massive, has 1,300 times the volume, or what?

This is why I like slashdot... that was my first thought too. Most other sites you'd be left wondering, or *gasp* have to RTFA (with the risk that it, as per usual, has no additional info)

Re:size? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46471313)

The OP should have been more clear. He should have given the size in football fields.

It's mere gas (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about 4 months ago | (#46467285)

Saying that these stars touch each other is like saying Jupiter's diameter is comes at some random point within its atmosphere. Both include a large amount of very sparse gas, with boundaries being fuzzy.

Re:It's mere gas (4, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 4 months ago | (#46467353)

The photosphere is a pretty clearly defined boundary.

If you want to go all "stellar windy" on the sun, it extends out beyond Pluto.

DUDE! (4, Funny)

DarthVain (724186) | about 4 months ago | (#46467777)

Everything is connected man, everything!

*cough*

Re:DUDE! (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#46468237)

In fact it is. By gravity.
And to a lower extend by electric and magnetic forces as well.

Re:DUDE! (3, Funny)

Rufty (37223) | about 4 months ago | (#46469597)

In fact it is. By gravity.

That sucks.

Re:DUDE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469673)

In fact it is. By gravity.

That sucks.

That pulls.

Re: DUDE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46476497)

Only if it is a black hole.

Re:It's mere gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468195)

The gas at the boundry of the photosphere is less dense than smoke from a campfire.

Re:It's mere gas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46469191)

Yes, but go ~2000-3000 km above that layer and the density drops by more than ten orders of magnitude. While a couple thousand kilometers in deeper only changes the density by a factor of 2 or 3. If you proportionately scaled down that couple thousand km layer to an equivalent layer on Earth, you would get about 18 km, over which the atmosphere only changes by an order of magnitude in density. In fact, the change in density from 17 km above Earth's surface to 1 km below Earth's surface in solid rock is only about 3-4 orders of magnitude change in density. In that sense, in terms of proportionate gradient in density, the Sun has orders of magnitude clearer boundary than the Earth.

Re:It's mere gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467789)

...is like saying Jupiter's diameter is comes at some random point within its atmosphere.

What??

Re:It's mere gas (3, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | about 4 months ago | (#46468231)

Like all proper planets (ie, Pluto and the ilk excluded), Jupiter consists of a ball of rock and some atmosphere. It just happens that Jupiter's atmosphere is extreme, consisting of 86-96% of the planet's mass. Yet, being gas, you can't tell where it starts and ends.

Re:It's mere gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468499)

First of all, don't mock Pluto. It hates that and may send Charon after you.

Second of all, Jupiter is not thought to be composed of any significant amount of rock. Last I heard it doesn't even have a solid surface.

Re:It's mere gas (2)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 4 months ago | (#46469487)

Jupiter is not thought to be composed of any significant amount of rock. Last I heard it doesn't even have a solid surface.

Thought by whom? Heard from where? An Anonymous Coward on a random discussion board?

"The core is often described as rocky, but its detailed composition is unknown, as are the properties of materials at the temperatures and pressures of those depths (see below). In 1997, the existence of the core was suggested by gravitational measurements,[31] indicating a mass of from 12 to 45 times the Earth's mass or roughly 4%–14% of the total mass of Jupiter.[30][33] The presence of a core during at least part of Jupiter's history is suggested by models of planetary formation involving initial formation of a rocky or icy core that is massive enough to collect its bulk of hydrogen and helium from the protosolar nebula."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's mere gas (1)

Sique (173459) | about 4 months ago | (#46471485)

There are also speculations that the core of Jupiter might be some exotic material like metallic Hydrogenium (compressed so much that normal Hydrogenium changes into a metallic state with the electrons freely floating between the Hydrogenium cores e.g. protons).

Re:It's mere gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468197)

I'd imagine they're meaning that the stars fill their Roche lobes but I haven't read the article so I don't know. But that's what normally counts as "contact".

If you stare at a double sun... (1)

Dareth (47614) | about 4 months ago | (#46470063)

If you stare at a double sun...do you go blind in both eyes or just one eye twice as fast?

Awesome!! (2)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 4 months ago | (#46467307)

That binary system is going to make one heck of a supernova at some point in the distant future.

Hopefully someone in cosmology will figure out what the energy release would be.

Very very cool!

Re:Awesome!! (1)

jfbilodeau (931293) | about 4 months ago | (#46467693)

Very very cool!

I'm sure you meant very very hot! ;)

Re:Awesome!! (5, Informative)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#46468747)

That binary system is going to make one heck of a supernova at some point in the distant future.

Maybe, probably not, but there is not enough data to know. It's been over four hundred years since the last recorded supernova in the Milky Way, and telescopes weren't that great in 1604. (Also the standard note about time and distance in astronomy, the star's light we see today is from about 12,000 years in our past. We cannot see today, we see the past.)

There is not enough data to say what will happen, and there are only a few major options for a star that size: partial collapse, full collapse, or ablation.

It might go through a series of partial collapses, with many small contractions end up ejecting huge chunks of the star, then re-expanding, and themselves re-exploding on their way out. This seems to be a fairly normal end-of-life pattern. Basically the core works like a fireworks launch platform as we see in summertime displays. Eventually the remaining core might be collapsed or not, but the show will be enjoyable. The result is a small nebula.

It might collapse into a neutron star. It might even collapse to a black hole. Either of these collapses MIGHT lead to a supernova, or maybe even a hypernova, or have a bunch of gamma bursts, or, most boring, nothing much at all; it just collapses with a (relatively mild compared to supernova) explosion and the outer layers blow away. Modern astronomers never seen it happen up close, so everything is a guess. Now that the partner is known people might be able to make a better guess, but it is still a guess. Depending on when it explodes, if ever, it will likely form a big nebula.

The actual article says the larger star is rapidly shedding mass. If it is throwing enough mass out fast enough (which will be affected by its binary partner) it will shrink enough to avoid a core collapse. In that case it will throw out a bunch of mass and in a few centuries appear as a small nebula.

But again we don't know what will happen because there are no similar data points. If you are looking for nearby stars to go supernova, there is a short list of known supernova candidates [wikipedia.org] that we can watch. Otherwise the supernova we see are from distant galaxies where we can only speculate about.

Re: Awesome!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468959)

You really want to see R136 to go bang. This is one large but very light in mass. R136 is the heaviest star known. It's a real monster.

Re:Awesome!! (2)

sinequonon (669533) | about 4 months ago | (#46469033)

Another interesting question is whether the companion will survive the explosion, be ejected from the system, and have stripped off enough mass to go supernova itself some day. Potentially a high velocity supernova!

Re:Awesome!! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46469537)

hopefully it will have happened 12,000 years ago, tomorrow

Possibly larger in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467401)

Sounds like it could have been something like a ternary / quaternary or larger system that all fell in to one star but that one last star remained out of the main one.
Sounds weird to have such a huge star like that form with a tiny star next to it.

HTF does that work? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467413)

The smaller part isn't "in orbit" in the traditional sense otherwise drag would pull it in. It's more like an asteroid that's too small for gravity to collapse it into a sphere, yet this thing is *just the opposite* in terms of size. The only thing I can think of is that the system must have absolutely stupendous spin and angular momentum. Either that, or there's a careful balance between the force pulling it in, and the heat pushing it away. That's more amazing to me than the size. How long can a system like that last in this form? Plainly it's stable enough for humans to emerge and observe it; but what do our models say about how such a beast forms and maintains itself?

Re:HTF does that work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46467733)

Plainly it's stable enough for humans to emerge and observe it

You realize that only means it had to be stable for a few (60 or so) years at most, right? (ie: from the first observation done of that star to the most recent.) I'm sure real astronomers would have a better idea about the likelyhood, but it's entirely possible that it only formed a few years before the first observation was made. "enough for humans to emerge" implies that it must have been around longer than humans have, but there really isn't any need for that. We could just be really lucky, and caught this one exactly within the middle of it's 70-year lifespan.

Monster Hypergiant Ribbon Found at Top of Website (4, Funny)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 4 months ago | (#46467457)

A giant ribbon was found in our neighborhood, only one link away, said researchers. It is one of the ten tallest ribbons or panels found on the web, being nearly 100 pixels tall. The ribbon's purpose seems to provide useful links and social "features", but we couldn't investigate much of this. The ribbon is unmovable even when you scroll the webpage, and its considerable height causes a gravitational lensing effect called "reading through a mail slot". Amazingly, a smaller rectangle was spotted nearby, it reads "feedback". It actually touches with your scrollbar! The whole result looks "modern" and slightly big, but scientists are puzzled that it feels so readable and non-annoying. Apparently, many other websites including previous submissions to slashdot were much worse.

Enough with the slashvertisements! (1)

fishybell (516991) | about 4 months ago | (#46467565)

I've had enough, first the click farmers, and now Planters© peanuts!

Wait...maybe I'm just hungry.

...resembles a peanut (1)

Chas (5144) | about 4 months ago | (#46467741)

So we're going to have astronomers shuffling around humming "Found a peanut"?

Gah! Shoot me now!

When I hear about an object like this (1)

Progman3K (515744) | about 4 months ago | (#46467787)

I immediately check the Celestia Motherlode.

The reason being that you can almost get a sense of how big something really is with it since it displays your distance to it in au (or ly, Kpc, Mpc).

I encourage you to try it, hit H then G to go to sol, then scroll away first to 1 au, then 10, etc. The sun is still quite bright at 1 ly.

Imagine how big that thing appears at 1 ly distance! // Maybe someone will create a Celestia add-on for it? Please please please!

Re:When I hear about an object like this (3, Informative)

atomicdragon (619181) | about 4 months ago | (#46468247)

At a distance of 1 light year, it would be about 40 arcseconds across, so about the size of Jupiter as seen from Earth.

Sounds interesting. (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 4 months ago | (#46467905)

I always find things out there in our galaxy like this pretty interesting. I never would have thought that something like this would be possible. I would think that they would have collided and merge or even just exploded.

sooo (1)

rcarsey (158673) | about 4 months ago | (#46468033)

so big.. and we're only finding it now?

Does this crack the top-10? (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#46468167)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

Seems to crack, maybe, the top-20.

Some fascinating objects on that list...

Kinda dissapointed: (2)

kfsone (63008) | about 4 months ago | (#46468333)

Followed the link, "click[ed] to enlarge" and it's just a bright dot :(

That's not really another star (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 4 months ago | (#46468415)

That's not really another star, he's just REALLY happy to see us see him seeing us.

Monster Hypergiant Star Discovered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46468639)

And then the new talent agent realized that Kirstie Alley had already been in several successful movies and films when she was younger.

I think it's appropriate... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 months ago | (#46469517)

That's no moon!

Wow (1)

stephencrane (771345) | about 4 months ago | (#46469765)

Just think of all the fold points it must have.

Anybody want a peanut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46470369)

No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Atmospheric drag? (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about 4 months ago | (#46470637)

"By analysing data on the star’s varying brightness, using observations from other observatories, the astronomers confirmed the object to be an eclipsing binary system where the smaller component passes in front and behind the larger one as it orbits. In this case HR 5171 A is orbited by its companion star every 1300 days."

Wouldn't atmospheric drag from the Yellow Giant slow the companion star down rapidly or is it somehow "star surfing"?

Title is incorrect (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 4 months ago | (#46471601)

From TFA:

Although it’s located moderately far from Earth, HR 5171 can just about be seen on a clear night in the constellation of Centaurus with the naked eye and has been measured to have a magnitude of between 6.10 and 7.30.

So, the title "Monster Hypergiant Star Discovered" is a little exaggerated. "Observations reveal new information about hypergiant star" would be better. Then again, it is the Discovery Channel who put this on their website. Maybe we should just be happy they don't express the size of the star in terms of football fields, and the volume in terms of schoolbuses.

Re:Title is incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46473523)

While the star was identified as a yellow hypergiant in the 70s due to its distance and luminosity, it was only in the last couple years that this particular star was observed in more detail, and the details of exactly how giagantic the star is, is recent news.

Ford Prefect (1)

BluPhenix316 (2656403) | about 4 months ago | (#46471907)

Has a cousin from that star system, and he said the stars were just rubbish....

Metal Poor? Evolved Binary? (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | about 4 months ago | (#46478147)

I wonder if this is the metal poor ( low Z > 4) halo star reported recently? Also, is this an evolved binary system where the outer layers of the secondary have accreted on the primary making it metastable? Some different equillibrium of a metal-poor star might be allowed in this condition than would be possible with large stars approaching solar metalicity.

1,300 times larger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46479519)

...doesn't mean 1,300 time brighter.

At only 12,000 light years away, it's just NOW being discovered.

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