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Beyond Earthly Skies

A Very Rare Type of Wolf-Rayet Star

22 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
A Very Rare Type of Wolf-Rayet Star
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Massive stars with more than 20 times the Sun’s mass are exceedingly rare. These stars are estimated to be as rare as ~1 in 1,000,000, possibly rarer. Nature does not like to make massive stars. Those that are formed, burn fast, shine bright and have brief lives of just a few million years. Despite their rarity, massive stars come in a very diverse range of stellar types. Some of these stellar types are so uncommon that they are represented by only a few known individual stars in a galaxy containing many billions of stars.The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is an irregular galaxy and also a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It is estimated to contain about 10 billion times the mass of the Sun. A region of the LMC known as Lucke-Hodge 41 (LH41, also known as NGC 1910) has a rich population of massive stars. This region is home to a high concentration of very rare stars including a few luminous blue variables (LBV), a yellow supergiant, a few Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars, as well as a number of other stellar oddities. These stars are all massive stars at various stages of evolution.WR stars represent advanced evolutionary stages in ...

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