We might have passed that age where the twinkling stars attracted us more than anything else. But, even today it continues to hold our interest in the same childlike way. Back in time, during childhood, most children dreamt of being astronauts all because of their fascination for stars. This certainly would have got you reminiscing about your childhood days, looking up at the sky with the blanket of stars up there. Be it as a child or as an adult, it could not have been nor ever will be possible to know everything about those ‘twinkling balls of fire’. For most of us, our knowledge about stars so far have mostly been limited to bookish education. Here comes your much awaited chance to get acquainted with top 10 interesting and unbelievable facts about stars. This would appease your thirst for information on those twinkling objects in the sky.
- How many of them?
If only keeping a count of the stars would have been as easy as counting on the fingertips. Unfortunately we can only rely on estimates. Milky Way Galaxy alone which is the home of our solar system is believed to comprise of 100 billion stars. It is a matter of time and discovery. Since there is no definite number of galaxies, there cannot be a definite number of stars too. For all we know, the number of stars might never be able to be accumulated in numbers, if all of them were to be counted. That’s pretty vast, isn’t it?
- The nearest largest star
Sun, as many of us consider is the largest star. But that can be said only for our solar system. There might be yet another sun for some varied solar system and we might be totally oblivious of it. For all we know the largest star to have been discovered so far is VY Canis Majoris in our galaxy. It is a giant red star with far more luminosity than the Sun. The star is approximately 2,000 times the size of our largest star. It is 4,892 light years away from our planet, Earth. The star would be short lived because of its high activity, its entire lifespan being only a few million years. Even imagining a sun larger than ours can be pretty shocking. This simply reflects the vastness of the universe and the inaccessibility towards it.
- Takes 1100 years to circle the nearest largest star
As stated earlier, VY Canis Majoris is the largest known star in the universe, as known so far. And that given the fact can only be said about our galaxy that is the Milky Way. This implies that that the largest star that we have known so long has a competitor and that too from the same galaxy. This star has a radius of 987,600,000 kilometers. That is definitely some gigantic size, if explained via a layman’s surprise. If you are on a passenger airplane going at a speed of 900km/hr, then you are likely to complete one orbit around this star in 1100 years.
Having talked of Milky Way and its stars considerably now comes some information about the stars of other galaxies. One such galaxy by the name of Titans has stars that are 20 to 40 % more massive than the biggest star that we have always known. The stars in these galaxies referred to as hypergiants. They release about the same amount of energy that Sun release in a year, in about six seconds. Given their hyperactivity they are consuming their fuels at a drastic rate. Because of the high speed of consumption, they also tend to be very luminous. The closest next largest star to sun, that is VY Canis Majoris is also believed to be a hypergiant.
- The sun isn’t static
It is good that we have long passed the age where Earth was being held as the center of the entire solar system. It has been proved that it is the Sun around which all the planets revolve. Not everyone would be very comfortable with the fact that the sun that they came to believe in as the one static force is not so. Neither is our closest largest star static, nor is the galaxy that it is a part of. The sun, along with the entire galaxy is moving. The sun is roaming around the Milky Way but at a slow speed of 828,000 kilometers per hour. With the present scheme of things and this speed of the sun, it would take nearly 230 million years as and when it completes one orbit of the galaxy. If so is the case with the sun, same would then imply on all the other stars that can be found in the universe.
- Binary stars
Binary stars are a pair of stars that are indistinguishably close to the naked eye. So close are these stars that it becomes difficult to tell them apart from each other even while using a telescope. The closer such stars are the faster they revolve around each other so as to keep from being pulled into one another. They change their intensity of brightness as one passes from the front of the other.
- Stardust might be real
Stars are created by a simple recipe and that too with the usage of minimum forces. As naïve as this might sound, but is somewhat true for sure. It is the high instability deep within the dust clouds which leads to knots. These knots gradually develop into masses with the collapse of gas and dust. The object at the center with the collapse of the dust and clouds begin to cool down. This leads to the formation of stars.
- Stars reflect history
It takes thousands of light years for the light of the stars to reach Earth. For those who do not know what a light year is, it is the distance that light from stars travel in a single Earth year. As per the research the largest star is about 4,900 light years away from the Earth. If you are able to watch that largest star today, it becomes obvious that you are getting a flickering glimpse of its history. You would be then looking at how that star looked 4,900 years ago. And to see how it looks at the present, you would have to wait for yet another several lifetimes to come.
- No green stars
Yes, there are the red stars and blue stars, but there are nothing like the green stars. So far there are no such stars in the universe that are known or found to be green. The myth or the misunderstanding has probably arisen because of looking through a telescope at a particular wavelength. If that is looked into, there would be no question of the ‘green stars’ then.
- The recent number
As per the latest studies, there are approximately somewhat 10 sextillion (21 zeroes) to 1 septillion (24 zeroes) stars in universe today. However it cannot be ignored that there are new galaxies being formed even till date. And this leads to the fact that we can only keep on estimating the number of stars and never reach on an exact number.
Every celestial body arouses fascination, but stars have their own charm over all.