Through observations of one of the largest stars known to exist in the Milky Way, a red hypergiant known as VY Canis Majoris, astronomers have been able to unravel the mystery as to how enormous stars shed vast quantities of mass prior to meeting their end in a cataclysmic supernova explosion.
Using the ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered a pair of enormous stars, known as an overcontact binary system, that orbit so close to each other that a bridge of stellar material has formed. Scientists predict that at some point, the strange partnership will end in spectacular fashion, with the stellar bodies either merging to create a single titanic star, or in a violent supernova, that would birth a binary black hole system.
An international team
of astronomers from Europe, Israel and the United States has
succeeded in shedding light on the origin of Type la supernovae –
powerful nuclear explosions in deep space that allow us to chart the
vast distances between galaxies. It is known that a white dwarf star
is responsible for creating the distinctive, intensely bright
explosion, but the cause of the supernovae are still a topic of hot