NASA recently used the Hubble Telescope and its Wide Field Camera 3 to discover dozens of stars that are 50 times the size of the Sun. Of the dozens of the stars, nine have a size of at least 100 times the size of the Sun.
The stars were discovered in the R136 star cluster that is 170,000 light-years away from our solar system. The nine stars together outshine the Sun by a factor of 30 million.
NASA said in a press release that the stars raise new questions on the formation of massive stars. NASA said it wanted to probe the cluster because the cluster has many extremely massive, hot and luminous stars. The energy of these stars is mostly radiated in the ultraviolet range of its light spectrum.
“The ability to distinguish ultraviolet light from such an exceptionally crowded region into its component parts, resolving the signatures of individual stars, was only made possible with the instruments aboard Hubble,” explains Paul Crowther from the University of Sheffield, U.K., and lead author of the study. “Together with my colleagues, I would like to acknowledge the invaluable work done by astronauts during Hubble’s last servicing mission: they restored STIS and put their own lives at risk for the sake of future science.”
Scientists are working to discover how these stars were formed in the first place.
“Once again, our work demonstrates that, despite being in orbit for over 25 years, there are some areas of science for which Hubble is still uniquely capable,” Crowther said.