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Biggest star in the Milky Way is dying


This red hypergiant bearing the name of VY Canis Majoris is 1,000 times more massive than our Sun. Extreme hypergiant stars are rarely observed in our galaxy. If the star replaced the sun, it would span hundreds of millions of miles, between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.

This artist’s impression of VY Canis Majoris shows the vast convection cells and violent ejections from the star. Credit: NASA, ESA and R. Humphreys (University of Minnesota).

For now, we don’t know what happens to them when they die. At first, astronomers thought they simply exploded into a supernova, like so many other stars do. Recent data call this hypothesis into question, since the number of observed supernovae is too low. The researchers therefore believe that it is possible that these massive stars turn into black holes instead.

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