Biggest Star Ever Found Is Ripping Apart
The largest star ever discovered may give scientists a better sense of how massive, dying stars seed the universe with the ingredients for rocky planets and even life.
W26 is about 1,500 times wider than the sun, making it the biggest known star in the universe. The red supergiant star is nearing the end of its life and will eventually explode as a supernova, researchers said.
"Stars with masses tens of times larger than that of the sun live very short and dramatic lives compared to their less massive siblings," officials with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in the U.K. said in a statement. "Some of the most massive stars have lifetimes of less than a few million years before they exhaust their nuclear fuel and explode as supernovas. At the very ends of their lives these stars become highly unstable and eject a considerable amount of material from their outer envelopes." [Supernova Photos: Great Image of Star Explosions]