At the core of the largest star-forming region of the Local Group sits the biggest star we know of.
Mass is the single most important astronomical property in determining the lives of stars.
Greater masses generally lead to higher temperatures, greater brightnesses, and shorter lifetimes.
Since massive stars burn through their fuel so quickly, the record holders are found in actively star-forming regions.
Luminosity isn’t enough, as short-lived outbursts can cause exceptional, temporary brightening in typically massive stars.
Within our own Milky Way, massive star-forming regions, like NGC 3603, house many stars over 100 times our Sun’s mass.
As a member of a binary system, HD 15558 A is the most massive star with a definitive value: 152 solar masses.
However, all stellar mass records originate from the star forming region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Known as the Tarantula Nebula, it has a mass of ~450,000 Suns and contains over 10,000 stars.
The central star cluster, R136, contains 72 of the brightest, most massive classes of star.
The record-holder is R136a1, some 260 times our Sun’s mass and 8,700,000 times as bright.
Stars such as this cannot be individually resolved beyond our Local Group.
With NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, we may discover Population III stars, which could reach thousands of solar masses.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.