Space

The largest star in the Milky Way is slowly dying: astronomers are watching it

Astronomers from the University of Arizona have developed a model of the aging of the star VY Big Dog — a red hypergiant, which may be the largest star in the Milky Way.

The authors are going to use this model to predict how the star will die.

Technically, it is classified as a red hypergiant and is one of the largest stars in the galaxy. The size of the VY of the Big Dog is approximately 1,800 and 2,100 Suns, and the mass is 15-25 times larger. At its peak, the star weighed as much as 40 Suns. However, astronomers believe that the star has already moved beyond the main sequence and is beginning to die. Therefore, a significant part of the mass VY of the Big Dog has already been carried away by solar winds.

The question of how red hypergiants die is controversial. Previously, astronomers thought they were just exploding into a supernova, as most other stars do.

But new data shows that there are not as many supernovae as exploded stars, but fewer. By far the most common theory is that they are most likely collapsing into a black hole. Such an object is much more difficult to observe than a supernova.

But it is still unknown what characteristics a star must have in order to become a black hole. To understand this, the authors chose VY Big Dog. The star has huge dimensions, and it is also close to our Solar system, so it is very convenient to observe.

One of the main indicators that a star is dying is the loss of mass. As a rule, this happens when gas and dust simultaneously begin to disappear from the photosphere of the star. But VY Big Dog has massive objects similar to Earth’s coronal arcs, though those are a billion times larger.

UA researchers used data from ALMA to capture radio signals that indicate these eruptions. Sulfur dioxide, silicon dioxide and sodium chloride erupt.

Astronomers rarely collect such a data object for only one object. Now the mathematical model data will continue to be supplemented so that the model shows when the VY of the Big Dog will finally officially die.


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