From Manu: “Westerlund 1, the birthplace of stars.


Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

The universe around us.
Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

A red hypergiant home.

1
Westerlund 1

Light travels through space at a speed of just under 300,000 kilometers per second. This amazing speed is used to calculate astronomical distances but is often misinterpreted as a unit of time due to its misleading name, a light-year is actually a unit of distance or astronomical length and is defined as the distance light travels in a year in a vacuum. Transforming this measure in kilometers we get an estimate of about nine trillion kilometers … but it’s a little difficult to visualize.

With this in mind 15,000 light years may sound like a really huge distance but compared to the vastness of the cosmos is actually a very close distance. In fact, an object located 15,000 light years away would not even be outside our galaxy, the Milky Way. This is approximately the distance between us and a bunch of young superstar known as Westerlund 1 , home to one of the biggest stars ever discovered.

The stars are classified according to their spectral type, surface temperature and luminosity. While studying and classifying the constituent group stars, astronomers discovered Westerlund 1 is home to one of the biggest stars ever discovered, originally named Westerlund 1-26 . This star is a red supergiant, although sometimes is classified as hypergiant, with a radius of more than 1,500 times that of our sun. If Westerlund 1-26 would be placed in the center of the solar system where is our Sun would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

It is believed that most of the stars in Westerlund 1 have formed in the same period of activity, which means they have similar ages and compositions. The group is relatively young in astronomical terms, about three million years, is compared to our own sun baby has about 4,600 million years.

Credit:
NASA/ESA Hubble

See the full article here .

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