“Astrophysicists have found a new region of the Milky Way, and it’s filled with searingly hot, bright-blue stars that are about to explode,” writes Live Science (in a report shared by long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot):
The researchers were creating the most detailed map yet of the star-flecked spiral arms of our galactic neighborhood with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia telescope when they discovered the region, which they have named the Cepheus spur, they reported in a new study.
Nestled between the Orion Arm — where our solar system is — and the constellation Perseus, the spur is a belt between two spiral arms filled with enormous stars three times the size of the sun and colored blue by their blistering heat. Astronomers call these giant, blue stars OB stars due to the predominantly blue wavelengths of light that they emit. They are the rarest, hottest, shortest-living and largest stars in the entire galaxy. The violent nuclear reactions taking place inside their hearts make them six times hotter than the sun. And the enormous stellar explosions that end their lives — called supernovas — scatter the heavy elements essential for complex life far into the galaxy.
“OB stars are rare, in a Galaxy of 400 billion stars there might be less than 200,000,” study co-author Michelangelo Pantaleoni González, a researcher at the Spanish Astrobiology Center (CAB), told Live Science.
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