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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: What Makes a Monster Star?
9 August 2012 1:44 pm
In 2010, observers reported the most massive stars ever seen, exceeding what many astronomers thought was a ceiling around 150 times the mass of our sun. The most flagrant violator had about twice the legal limit. The heavyweight champs resided 160,000 light-years from Earth in Radcliffe 136 (far right image above), a dense star cluster within the Large Magellanic Cloud, the brightest galaxy that revolves around our own. Now, as astronomers will report in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, they have simulated the evolution of this star cluster, finding that a stellar heavyweight can arise when two massive stars born orbiting each other merge into a single behemoth due to the frequent juggling of other stars in such a dense environment. The idea is plausible, because massive stars usually have partners, but observers need to test the claim by measuring how fast the record-breaking stars spin. If they're really the product of stellar mergers, they should spin fast: As two stars merge, the angular momentum of their orbital motion spins up the single merged star so that it whirls rapidly.
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