Thursday, October 30, 2008

Young star nursery home to two of 'the most massive stars known'

About 26,000 light years from Earth is a massive cloud of hydrogen known as Gum 29 (it's the 29th entry in Australian astronomer Colin Stanely Gum's 1955 catalogue). The cloud has been ionized (stripped of its electrons) by two super-massive, super-young stars orbiting each other in the Westerlund 2 cluster (see pink cloud in the middle of the image below) that lies at Gum 29's heart. This according to a European Organization for Astronomical Research (ESO) press release (originally found by Pound 360 at the io9 blog via Digg)

The sibling stars are 82 and 83-times the mass of our own sun, they spin around each other once every 3.7 (Earth) days and they're just 1-2 million years old.

That's not very long ago. 1.8 million years ago, homo erectus was taking its first steps in Africa (
according to Wikipedia). 1.5 million years ago, homo georgicus was learning to control fire.

(
Image courtesy ESO)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.