(ORDO NEWS) — A team of astronomers from the University of Arizona has obtained a detailed 3D image of the dying red hypergiant VY Canis Majoris, more than 3,000 light-years from Earth. Perhaps this object is the largest star in the Milky Way.
The researchers studied the distribution of various molecules surrounding the hypergiant star, the direction and speed of their movement, and reported on this at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena.
The group plans to publish its findings in a series of papers in the future.
VY Canis Majoris, or VY CMa for short, is a pulsating variable star in the constellation Canis Major with a radius nearly 2,000 times that of the Sun, close to the Hayashi limit, the maximum radius of a star in hydrostatic equilibrium for a given mass.
The mass of the star is estimated at 17 ± 8 solar masses. If you place this star in the center of the solar system, then it will absorb the orbit of Jupiter.
Extreme supergiant stars, called hypergiants, are extremely rare, with only a handful known in the Milky Way. These are primarily Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation of Orion, and NML Cygnus, also known as V1489 Cygnus, in the constellation Cygnus.
Unlike lower-mass stars, which also swell during the transition to the red giant phase, but usually retain a spherical shape, hypergiants tend to sporadically lose some of their mass, and their outer shell forms complex, highly irregular structures consisting of arcs, clumps and knots, many of which extend thousands of astronomical units from the central star.
“We are particularly interested in what these hypergiants do at the end of their lives,” says one of the authors of the work, Ambesh Singh. – Previously thought that these massive stars are bound to explode in supernovae, but now we are no longer sure.” Perhaps the collapse can take place in a rather “peaceful” way.
The scientists used the ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter-Wave Array, a radio telescope complex located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to study various molecules ejected from the star’s surface.
Distribution maps of sulfur oxide, sulfur dioxide, silicon oxide, phosphorus oxide and sodium chloride were obtained. Based on these data, an image of the global structures of the VY CMa molecular outflow was constructed on a scale covering all the material ejected from the star.
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