Astronomers reveal ‘largest yellow star ever’

Agence France-Presse
The yellow hypergiant star HR 5171 A is estimated to be 50% larger than the famous red supergiant Betelgeuse

HR 5171 A. A handout photo released on March 10, 2014 by the European Southern Observatory shows the HR 5171, the brightest star just below the centre of this wide-field image, which is a yellow hypergiant, a very rare type of stars with only a dozen known in our galaxy. ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/AFP

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – Astronomers have spotted the largest yellow star ever observed in our galaxy and 1,300 times larger than the sun.

The yellow hypergiant star HR 5171 A is also in the top-10 of the largest stars known and about one million times brighter than the sun, Olivier Chesneau, whose team made the discovery, said Wednesday, March 13.

Despite its great distance of nearly 12,000 light-years from earth, the object can just about be seen with the naked eye.

“The new observations also showed that this star has a very close binary partner, which was a real surprise,” said Chesneau, of the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur, in Nice, France.

“The two stars are so close that they touch and the whole system resembles a gigantic peanut.”

His team estimated the star is 50% larger than the famous red supergiant Betelgeuse.

Yellow hypergiants are very rare, with only a dozen or so known in our galaxy.

HR 5171 A has been getting bigger over the last 40 years, cooling as it grows, the astronomers said.
Chesneau and an international team used a Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory in Paranal, Chile.

A technique called interferometry combines light collected from multiple individual telescopes to effectively create a giant telescope up to 140 metres (460 feet) in size. – Rappler.com

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