General Question

GeorgeGee's avatar

Why aren't there any really big stars?

Asked by GeorgeGee (4925points) July 21st, 2010

The largest star discovered is only 300 times the mass of the Sun; the same order of magnitude. Why aren’t there any stars a thousand or even a million times larger?

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16 Answers

Carly's avatar

they might be too far away? We just haven’t discovered them yet. ^_^

laureth's avatar

Here’s a relevant article.

And another.

Although I suppose if they have enough mass, they may end up collapsing as a black hole.

CMaz's avatar

It is physics 101.

@laureth is correct. Too much mass is not a good thing.

ETpro's avatar

If a star bevcomes too massive, even the nuclear reaction’s force pushing its mass out from it’s core in insufficient to overcome the gravitational pull of all that mass, and it collapses into itself forming a black hole.

R136a1, located in the Tarantula Nebula probably had a birth weight of 360 times the mass of our sun. Super massive stars have such violent nuclear reactions in their cores that they eject mass, loosing weight after birth.

@laureth R136a1 will undoubtedly collapse into a black hole after it runs low on nuclear fuel and supernovas.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Since when is 300 times larger than our sun not really big?

nikipedia's avatar

how is 300x larger the same order of magnitude…?

Parrappa's avatar

I understand what your asking, but clearly you have no idea how incredibly massive the sun is. Multiply that by 300 and you have a pretty big fucking star.

GeorgeGee's avatar

@nikipedia, see Wikipedia for more information on “Orders of magnitude for very large numbers:”
“For extremely large numbers, a generalized order of magnitude can be based on their double logarithm or super-logarithm. Rounding these downward to an integer gives categories between very “round numbers”, rounding them to the nearest integer and applying the inverse function gives the “nearest” round number.

The double logarithm yields the categories:

…, 1.0023–1.023, 1.023–1.26, 1.26–10, 10–1010, 1010–10100, 10100–101000, ...

(the first two mentioned, and the extension to the left, may not be very useful, they merely demonstrate how the sequence mathematically continues to the left).”

gasman's avatar

@GeorgeGee: For the purposes of your question, orders of magnitude should be taken in the ordinary sense (log base 10), so 300x larger means three and a half orders of magnitude larger. The reference to “very large numbers” in the Wikipedia article—things like the number of possible quantum states in the universe—doesn’t apply here. The behavior of stars etc. depends very much on whether something is 10x versus 1000x bigger.

gasman's avatar

meant to say “two and a half…”

filmfann's avatar

They have located a star so huge it is bigger than the orbit of the Earth.
It’s size, though, indicates it is mostly gaseous. If it were compacted to the same density of our Sun, it would be much smaller, though I don’t know how small.

ETpro's avatar

@gasman Don’t you just hate when it’s too late to save face with a quick edit? :-)

GeorgeGee's avatar

At 300 time the volume, the diameter of the largest known star is only 3.44 times wider than our sun. That’s not a big difference in my book. Our sun’s diameter, on the other hand, is more than 109 times greater than the earth’s diameter.

gasman's avatar

@ETpro: Yeah, they ought to allow at least 30 minutes for editing. I’d rack up more Perfecto-Fishes, too.

ETpro's avatar

@GeorgeGee Not only is Boston the best town and the USA the best Country, but Earth has the best star in the whole Milky Way Galaxy!

And I haven’t seen the likes of our Sun in any of those other half-bit galaxies out there either. ET, forget about phoning home. You know you really want to stay right here.

@gasman I’d love 30 minutes too, and I would never use it to modify a question just to make a great answer look dumb. But it’s those guys from them other half-rate galaxies that spoil it for all us decent earthlings. They’d use it to cheat and runi a good thing. Earth Rocks! Whadya got to say about that, R136a1—you big overblown gasbag!

gasman's avatar

@ETpro : Modify the question? That never even occurred to me—I assumed everything was locked except my own answer.

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