Thread: Science Science is Cool....
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:49 PM   #291
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VY Canis Majoris



Do you sometimes think you are larger than life? Well here is something to bring you down to size! When we look at our sun every day, we see a small ball of burning gas. But how big is it really? Our sun is actually 93 million miles (150 million kilometres) away from our planet, which in reality means it is gigantic. You can fit a million Earth's inside the sun. Now, that just sounds incredibly huge. But compared to a lot of stars, our sun is actually quite small. The largest star discovered so far is known as VY Canis Majoris, located in the Canis Major constellation. This "Hypergiant" as astronomers call it, is about 4,900 light years from Earth and is visible with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. This massive star is estimated to be a billion times bigger than our sun, shining 500,000 times as bright. If it were at the center of our solar system, it would reach as far out as Saturn.

We have recently discovered that this supermassive red giant seems to be nearing the end of its life. There have been recordings of giant explosions on the star's surface, causing loops and arcs which spray matter from the star into space. Normally, the star will lose matter. But when these giant explosions occur, "VY CMa" can lose 10 times as much as its normal rate. These explosions have been going on for at least the past 1,000 years, scientists think. When the star finally dies, it will create a supernova, some of the biggest explosions in the universe from what we know. But it is possible that because VY CMa is so big, it will create an even bigger explosion, known only as a Hypernova. Hypernovae can contain and release more energy than 1,000 supernovae and emits massive amounts of gamma rays, which are sent in all directions. The core of the star is so massive, that when it collapses in on itself, it will even crush the neutrons inside. This creates so much power and energy, that nothing but a massive black hole is left behind. Luckily for Earth, we are too far away to be affected by all of this mayhem that VY CMa is going to create at the end of its life.
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