Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Massive Stars in Westerlund 1

The Massive Stars in Westerlund 1:

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 June 20


See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.


The Massive Stars in Westerlund 1

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


Explanation: Star cluster Westerlund 1 is home to some of the largest and most massive stars known. It is headlined by the star Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant star so big that if placed in the center of our Solar System, it would extend out past the orbit of Jupiter. Additionally, the young star cluster is home to 3 other red supergiants, 6 yellow hypergiant stars, 24 Wolf-Rayet stars, and several even-more unusual stars that continue to be studied. Westerlund 1 is relatively close-by for a star cluster at a distance of 15,000 light years, giving astronomers a good laboratory to study the development of massive stars. The featured image of Westerlund 1 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope toward the southern constellation of the Altar (Ara). Although presently classified as a "super" open cluster, Westerlund 1 may evolve into a low mass globular cluster over the next billion years.

Follow APOD on: Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, or Twitter

Tomorrow's picture: clock: "solstice"



< | Archive | Submissions | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >



Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.