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Crimson
2004-Aug-10, 07:06 PM
With few exceptions, the only way to measure stellar masses is to monitor those stars which are in binary systems. Now Rauw et al. (2004) (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0404551) report a record-breaking result from the WR20a system: the two stars have the greatest masses ever measured, at least 71 and 69 solar masses. The full paper appears in Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 420, page L9.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Aug-10, 08:21 PM
Ok ...

That looks like a Black Hole Binary, waiting to happen.

Brady Yoon
2004-Aug-11, 12:43 AM
Yeah. It's more massive than Eta Carinae even??

amateurphysicist
2004-Aug-11, 02:38 AM
Ok ...

That looks like a Black Hole Binary, waiting to happen.

No kidding!!!

The two stars would end up with Schwartzchild radii of approximately 213 km and 207 km, respectively. I'm sure the orbital distance between them is much larger than either of these values, but it would be very cool to observe (from some safe distance far, far away!) what would happen if their event horizons overlapped.

Brady Yoon
2004-Aug-11, 05:46 AM
Now that we're finding stars that are more massive every day, is there a theoretical limit? BTW, what about the recently discovered LBV with a luminosity of 40 million times the sun? I would guess that that one's even more massive.

Dark Helmet
2004-Aug-11, 09:55 AM
I thought it was the Pistol Star that was the most massive... :x

Crimson
2004-Aug-11, 08:02 PM
The key word in the headline is MEASURED. These two stars are the most massive ever directly measured, but surely stars exist with even greater masses. For the vast majority of stars, there is no direct measure of their mass.

Brady Yoon
2004-Aug-12, 06:31 AM
The key word in the headline is MEASURED. These two stars are the most massive ever directly measured, but surely stars exist with even greater masses. For the vast majority of stars, there is no direct measure of their mass.

Yeah, there might be 500 solar mass stars, maybe 1 per galaxy... :o