What Makes a Monster Star?
In 2010, observers reported the most massive stars ever seen, exceeding what many astronomers thought was a ceiling around 150 times the mass of our sun. The most flagrant violator had about twice the legal limit. The heavyweight champs resided 160,000 light-years from Earth in Radcliffe 136, a dense star cluster within the Large Magellanic Cloud, the brightest galaxy that revolves around our own.
Now, as astronomers will report in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, they have simulated the evolution of this star cluster, finding that a stellar heavyweight can arise when two massive stars born orbiting each other merge into a single behemoth due to the frequent juggling of other stars in such a dense environment.