Scientists have discovered a “monster” baby star forming about 11,000 light-years from Earth. When it reaches full maturity, the baby star will be about 100 times the mass of our sun.
The giant star is forming amid a huge cloud of interstellar dust that currently measures 500 times the mass of the sun. The baby star was discovered by astronomers while they were using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array telescope (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
Space.com notes that officials with the European Southern Observatory, a partner with ALMA, stated on Wednesday:
“The embryonic star within the cloud is hungrily feeding on material that is racing inwards. The cloud is expected to give birth to a very brilliant star with up to 100 times the mass of the sun.”
Gary Fuller, co-author of the study announcing the monster baby star, added, “Only about 1 in 10,000 stars is as massive as the one we are seeing forming. National Geographic reports that Fuller also called the celestial body “the most massive protostar known in our galaxy.”
Fuller believes that the protostar is still feeding and gaining mass from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding it. At some point in the not-so-near future, the cloud surrounding the monster baby star will collapse in on it, causing it to burn a million times brighter than our sun.
But because of how early the star is into the process, astronomers have no firm idea on when that will happen, or what its final mass will be. Fuller explained:
“It will take only about 100,000 years for the star to grow to its final mass, and by then it will have cleared away the remaining dust and gas around itself and become visible at optical wavelengths. After less than a million years, it will then die as a spectacular nova.
Unfortunately, it is highly likely none of us will be alive to see the monster baby star grow into maturity.