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ESO Very Large Telescope Captures Largest Yellow Star Ever Spotted

First Posted: Mar 12, 2014 07:31 PM EDT

Scientists in Chile operating the ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer spotted the yellow star, HR5171 A, which is one of the top ten largest stars ever discovered. The star is 1,300 times the diameter of the sun, shining 12,000 light-years away.

European Southern Observatory officials reported that it is possible to see the star with the naked eye because of its intense glow that's one million times brighter than the sun. HR 5171 A is a yellow hypergiant. Past ESO reports show these hypergiants rapidly change and dispense matter that forms a large atmosphere around itself.

Oliver Chesneau is a scientist of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur in France who works closely with the VLT technology. He and his international team utilize a special technique to view such matter in outer space. It's call interferometry, which combines light from a number of individual telescopes and creates one large telescope with different capabilities. This is how the scientists observed HR 5171 A.

The Very Large Telescope is the world's most advanced optical instrument. Four Unit Telescopes work together to form the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer. This technology allows astronomers to view details in space up to 25 times finer than an individual telescope would command. The four large individual telescopes are named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun.

And thanks to this technology, unprecedented discoveries have been made in outer space along with countless contributions to science, astronomy, technology, and other fields. HR 5171 A is just the latest accomplishment.

"HR 5171 A has been found to be getting bigger over the last 40 years, cooling as it grows, and its evolution has now been caught in action," ESO officials said in this Space.com article. "Only a few stars are caught in this very brief phase, where they undergo a dramatic change in temperature as they rapidly evolve."

Oliver Chesneau and his international team, especially the researchers in Chile, will be credited with the discovery and their findings will soon be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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