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R136a1 is 165,000 light years from Earth.
It is the most massive and most luminous star ever discovered.
The star is in the R136 star cluster, which is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The Large Magellanic Cloud is a nearby dwarf galaxy which orbits the Milky Way.

There are several other stars in the R136 cluster which have a mass more than 100 times that of the sun.
It is believed these massive stars are the result of large stars colliding and merging.
It is thought that R136a1 was previously more massive but has since lost around 15% of its mass.
Massive stars are very short lived, existing for only a few million years.
The maximum age of most of the stars in the R136 cluster is only 2 million years, our sun is already 4.5 billion years old.
Its incredibly large mass makes R136a1 a very unstable star, it may even explode as a supernova before its core collapses.

In 1960, a group of astronomers working at the Radcliffe Observatory in Pretoria made systematic measurements of the brightness and spectra of bright stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Among the objects cataloged was RMC 136 (Radcliffe observatory Magellanic Cloud catalog number 136), the central "star" of the Tarantula Nebula, which the observers concluded was probably a multiple star system. Subsequent observations showed that R136 was located in the middle of a giant region of ionized interstellar hydrogen, known as an H II region, which was a center of intense star formation in the immediate vicinity of the observed stars.[7]
In 1979, ESO's 3.6 m telescope was used to resolve R136 into three components; R136a, R136b, and R136c.[8] The exact nature of R136a was unclear and a subject of intense discussion. Estimates that the brightness of the central region would require as many as 100 hot O class stars within half a parsec at the centre of the cluster led to speculation that a star 3,000 times the mass of the Sun was the more likely explanation.[9]
The first demonstration that R136a was a star cluster was provided by Weigelt and Beier in 1985. Using the speckle interferometry technique, R136a was shown to be made up of 8 stars within 1 arcsecond at the centre of the cluster, with R136a1 being the brightest.[10]
Final confirmation of the nature of R136a came after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Its Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WFPC) resolved R136a into at least 12 components and showed that R136 contained over 200 highly luminous stars.[11] The more advanced WFPC2 allowed the study of 46 massive luminous stars within half a parsec of R136a and over 3,000 stars within a 4.7 parsec radius.[12]

Deep inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, 160,000 light years away, the star R136a1 has just shattered all of the records.
It weighs in at 265 times the mass of the Sun. It's so massive that it's probably already blown off something like 60 times the mass of the Sun, meaning it was over 300 times as massive as the Sun when it was born. A star like this is unheard of, and many were dubious that a star like this could have even existed! With a lifetime under 10,000 years, we're lucky to have caught a glimpse of it at all!

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