Stargazing: it’s the ultimate pastime. What better way to spend a clear night than to look up at the sky and pick out the constellations?
Whether you’re an amateur astronomer or a dedicated fanatic, we all love stars as much as the next person.
While it’s simple enough to pick out the most common constellations in the sky, unless you have a keen eye (and a darn good telescope), you probably won’t be able to see some of the rarest stars in the universe – that’s why we’re here to tell you more.
Where Are The Rarest Stars In The Universe?
The Milky Way is home to hundreds of billions of stars, but only a finite amount are visible to the naked eye.
These rare stars are known as supergiants because they are so big and bright. They also happen to be extremely hot. This makes them incredibly luminous, and they shine with such intensity that they can be seen from Earth.
And while these stars are pretty amazing on their own, they get even more interesting when you add in other factors like how far away they are.
And what’s even more impressive is that many of these stars aren’t actually part of our galaxy. Instead, they belong to another group of galaxies called the Local Group.
While this may seem like a long journey, it’s actually not too far away at all. It takes just over 3 million light-years to reach the nearest member of the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy.
How Do We Know Which Stars Are Rare?
To figure out which stars are the rarest in the universe, astronomers use something called the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.
This chart shows the relationship between the brightness of a star and its temperature. As you move across the chart, the temperature increases, and vice versa.
This is what scientists use to identify and class certain stars, and thus, determine what sort of form they have. Some forms are far more rare than others. Neutron stars, for instance, are considered quite rare.
The Strangest Stars In The Universe: Explained
Most stars are predictable, but the rare ones are a bit of an enigma. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest stars in the universe.
This star is located in the constellation of Ophiuchus, and it has been nicknamed “the vampire” due to its strange appearance.
It looks like a giant red sun surrounded by a ring of dust, and it appears to be moving towards us but is actually moving away.
It’s thought that Wolf 359 was originally a normal star, but it had a close encounter with another star. This caused the star to become unstable and eventually collapse into a black hole.
When the star collapsed, it released a huge amount of energy, causing the surrounding material to expand outward. This expansion created the ring of dust that surrounds the star.
Located in the Tarantula Nebula, this star is the most massive star ever observed. It weighs about 50 times more than our Sun, making it almost 200 times larger.
And despite being so large, it still doesn’t have enough mass to form a neutron star.
Instead, it will continue to grow and burn brighter until it explodes as a supernova. This explosion is expected to occur within the next few hundred thousand years.
But before it explodes, we can see it shining brightly in X-rays. That’s because the star is releasing copious amounts of radiation. This is why it’s also known as the “Eldorado Star.”
M82 X-2 is one of the most bizarre objects in the universe. It’s a pulsar, or rapidly spinning neutron star, that’s emitting gamma rays. Pulsars spin very quickly, but they don’t emit any visible light.
So how does M82 X-2 get around this problem? Well, when a pulsar spins fast enough, it creates a strong magnetic field. This causes charged particles to spiral around the star, creating a powerful beam of radiation.
If you were standing on Earth, you’d only be able to detect the radio waves coming from this object. But if you were standing on Mars, you could even see the X-ray emissions coming from it.
And just like all other pulsars, M82 X-2 isn’t stable. Its rotation rate is slowing down over time, and it may not survive long enough for us to observe it again.
This pulsar is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is part of the Milky Way galaxy.
It’s one of the oldest pulsars ever discovered, having formed about 4 billion years ago. And although it’s old, it’s still producing high levels of radiation.
The reason for this is that it’s rotating extremely slowly. Pulsars rotate much faster than regular stars do. But PSR J1719-1838 rotates so slowly that it takes about 12 hours to complete a single revolution.
Since it’s so slow, it emits less radiation per second than younger pulsars. But it’s still emitting about 10% of the power of a typical young pulsar.
The reason why it’s so faint is that it’s located behind a cloud of gas and dust. If you look at the image below, you’ll notice that there are two bright spots near the center of the nebula.
These are the twin jets of matter shooting outwards from the pulsar. They’re called synchrotron jets, and they’re powered by the intense magnetic fields generated by the pulsar.
Cepheid Variable Star V849 Cen
V849 Centauri is an unusual type of variable star. Instead of changing brightness over time, it changes color. Specifically, it goes through phases where its spectrum shifts towards longer wavelengths.
It’s believed that these variations are caused by the presence of a companion star orbiting the main body of the star.
The companion star heats up and becomes bluer as the orbit gets closer. Then, when the orbit moves farther away, the temperature drops, and the star turns redder.
It’s been estimated that the companion star has a mass about 1/10th that of the primary star. However, it’s unclear whether the companion actually exists. There have been no observations made since the early 1900s.
So what makes V849 Centauri different from other types of variables is that it doesn’t appear to change its period. It seems to remain constant throughout the entire cycle.
But astronomers aren’t sure exactly what’s going on here. Some believe that the star is simply undergoing some kind of eclipse.
Others think that the star is being fed material from its companion. Still, others think that the star is actually shrinking as it ages.
But despite all the speculation, we know that V849 Centauri will eventually die. It will become too small to support itself against gravity at some point. Then it will collapse into a black hole.
And once it does, it won’t be able to produce any more energy. So even though it’s still radiating light, it will fade away forever.
As you can see, there are many interesting things happening around the universe right now. We’ve only scratched the surface!
The rarest stars are just a small insight into how amazing the universe actually is – and we have no doubt there’ll be plenty more rare stars to come!
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