Astronomers have discovered the biggest star ever - more than 300 times the mass of the Sun, and twice as large as the generally accepted limit of 150 solar masses.
A team led by Paul Crowther, professor of astrophysics at the University of Sheffield, used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope to study two young clusters of stars, NGC 3603 and RMC 136a.
R136a1, found in the R136 cluster, is the most massive star ever found, with a current mass of about 265 solar masses and a birthweight of as much as 320 solar masses, TG Daily reports.
Astrophysicist Paul Crowther said the obese star — twice as heavy as any previously discovered — has already slimmed down considerably over its lifetime.
In fact, it's burning itself off with such intensity that it shines at nearly 10 million times the luminosity of the sun.
"Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age," said Crowther, an astrophysicist at the University of Sheffield in northern England. "R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program."
Crowther said the giant was found at the center of a star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula, a sprawling cloud of gas and dust drifting through one of the Milky Way's neighboring galaxies, according to The Associated Press.