Bright stars a space oddity

June 09, 2017

Space, the final frontier.

There is still very little we actually understand about the vast universe we live in.

Still, the human race is determined to go out and explore the cosmos, so just to make sure we know exactly what we are getting into, here are a couple of discoveries which will amaze you.

Some stars out there in the universe are downright odd.

Let’s have a look at a few and you will see what I mean.

We’ve just discovered one of the biggest stars imaginable and it is basically in our own backyard.

It’s about 15000 light years away.

It’s called a red supergiant and is so huge that if we were to place it in the centre of our solar system in place of our own sun, it would cover all four rocky planets and extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

This stellar monster is in the top five of the biggest stars we’ve ever found.

Now, I’m not saying aliens are involved, but there’s something odd going on.

Astronomers have also started observing one of the most enigmatic stars known to humanity.

Only 1400 light years away, it is simply known as Tabby’s Star.

The alert went out last month that the odd dips in the brightness of the star observed a few times before were happening once again.

These dips have yet to be explained, giving rise to all sorts of theories, including far out ideas like a huge megastructure built by an advanced alien civilisation passing in front of it.

Yes, I’m thinking Luke and the Death Star here, too.

What makes this star so bizarre is that its dips in brightness do not seem to follow any obvious patterns.

Something seems to pass in front of the star. It’s also getting noticeably less bright over time, as if someone is turning down its energy output.

While the odds that whatever is getting in between the star and our telescopes is artificial are still very low, that possibility still cannot be ruled out.

Finally, you can’t see them now, but in five years time, two enormous distant stars will collide, brightening by a factor of 10000 and instantly becoming one of the brightest things in the sky in 2022, even in daylight.

The stars are 1800 light years away from us, which means the explosion has already happened — 1800 years ago.

It’ll certainly be mesmerising for us to watch, but for astronomers, it could provide major insight into how stars develop over time.

David Reneke is a feature writer for Australasian Science magazine and a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio. Get his free astronomy newsletter at www.davidreneke.com

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