Scientists just discovered a monster young star with 30 times the mass of our sun

Source: A Smith, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Scientists just discovered a star more than 30 times the mass of the sun, and it's probably not done growing yet. 

The star is still just a "protostar," or a baby star that doesn't have a fusion-powered core yet, so this is a rare opportunity for scientists to study how giant stars like this one form. 

"An average star like our sun is formed over a few million years, whereas massive stars are formed orders of magnitude faster — around 100,000 years," lead author John Ilee said in a statement. "These massive stars also burn through their fuel much more quickly, so they have shorter overall lifespans, making them harder to catch when they are infants."

The star sits about 11,000 light-years away inside a stellar nursery swathed in a cloud of gas and dust. Researchers spotted it with telescopes that use long wavelengths of light capable of piercing through all that gas and dust, according to the University of Cambridge

Illustration of the massive star and its disc
Source: 
A Smith, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

They also spotted a "Keplerian" disc around the star, where material in the inner part of the disc rotates faster than the outer part. Our own solar system has Keplerian motion, since the the inner planets orbit around the sun faster than the outer planets, Ilee said.

"It's exciting to find such a disc around a massive young star, because it suggests that massive stars form in a similar way to lower mass stars, like our sun," Ilee said.

Researchers plan to study the star with another long-wavelength telescope. They expect the star is hiding even more mass in its Keplerian disc. 

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