Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Massive Stars in Westerlund

Star cluster Westerlund 1 is home to some of the largest and most massive stars known. It is headlined by the star Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant star so big that if placed in the center of our Solar System, it would extend out past the orbit of Jupiter. Additionally, the young star cluster is home to 3 other red supergiants, 6 yellow hypergiant stars, 24 Wolf-Rayet stars, and several even-more unusual stars that continue to be studied. Westerlund 1 is relatively close-by for a star cluster at a distance of 15,000 light years, givingastronomers a good laboratory to study the development of massive stars. The featured image of Westerlund 1 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope toward the southernconstellation of the Altar (Ara). Although presently classified as a "super" open cluster,Westerlund 1 may evolve into a low massglobular cluster over the next billion years.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Hubble Space Telescope

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