Astronomy Picture of the Day

Massive Stars in Open Cluster Pismis 24

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Massive Stars in Open Cluster Pismis 24

How massive can a normal star be?

Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard
solar models had given one star in the
open cluster Pismis 24
over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it a record holder.

This star is the brightest object located just to the right of the gas front in the
above image.

Close inspection of images taken recently with the
Hubble Space Telescope,
however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its
brilliant luminosity
not from a single star but from
three at least.

Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses,
making them among the more
massive stars currently on record.

Toward the image left, stars are still forming in the associated
emission nebula
NGC 6357, including several that appear to be
breaking out and illuminating a
spectacular cocoon.

APOD Editor to Discuss "Best of APOD 2006" Pictures in NYC on January 5

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