Astronomers established a detailed 3D map of VY Canis Majoris, a disappearing red hypergiant star   located over 3,000 light-years from Earth. They found that the way this unusual supergiant star forfeits mass is similar to coronal arcs, loops of plasma that emit from the sun but are billions of times bigger.

Utilizing the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the team, directed by University of Arizona researchers Ambesh Singh and Lucy Ziurys, tracked the distributions and velocities of molecules as they swirled around VY Canis Majoris and mapped them to patterns of ejected material that expand for billions of miles.

VY Canis Majoris is a rotating variable star in the constellation Canis Major with a mass of 17 times that of the sun and a radius of 10,000 to 15,000 astronomical units. One AU is the average length between Earth and the sun: roughly 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.

“Think of it as Betelgeuse on steroids,” Ziurys announced in a statement. “It is much larger, much more massive, and undergoes violent mass eruptions every 200 years.”

This implies that studying VY Canis Majoris offers a rare opportunity for astronomers to better understand the processes that take place when a tremendously big star reaches the verge of its life cycle. The astronomers especially wanted to comprehend how this star sheds mass.

The death throes of these massive stars vary from those of lower-mass stars, like the sun, which puff up and reach a red giant phase when they exhaust hydrogen, which is the fuel that powers nuclear fusion and can no longer assist themselves against gravitational fall.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.

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