This beautiful Hubble image reveals a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1, only 15,000 light-years away in our Milky Way neighborhood, yet home to one of the largest stars ever discovered. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
A recent Hubble image shows Westerlund 1, a young super star cluster only 15,000 light-years away in the Milky Way neighborhood and yet considered to be the home to one of the biggest stars ever been discovered.
Classification of stars is performed based on their luminosity, surface temperature, and spectral type. Astronomers discovered that Westerlund 1 is home to a giant star while analyzing and classifying the constituent stars of the cluster. This monster star, originally named Westerlund 1-26, is a red supergiant with a radius more than 1,500 times that of the sun.
This red supergiant is sometimes classified as a hypergiant. Westerlund 1-26 would extend much beyond the orbit of Jupiter if it were placed where the sun is situated.
Several of Westerlund 1’s stars are believed to have developed in the same burst of activity, referring to the fact that they have similar compositions and ages. Based on astronomical terms, the cluster is comparatively young, that is, when almost three million years old it is actually a baby compared to the sun, which is around 4.6 billion years old.