January 10, 2005
Red Giants discovered in Milky Way
SAN DIEGO, United States (AFP) -- Astronomers have discovered three giant stars in the Milky Way, an international conference was told.
The three "red giants" were found among a group of 74 stars studied by a group of international astronomers.
All are approaching the end of their life cycle and very cold, bright and enormous, said Philip Massey of the Lowell telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Red Giants are the largest stars ever observed. Each is 1,500 times that of our sun.
The stars are KW Sagitarii, located 9,800 light years away; V354 Cephei (9,000 light years away) and KY Cygni (5,200 light-years away).
By comparison, the Betelgeuse, another red giant in the Orion constellation, has a radius 650 times that of our sun.
The biggest star known prior to the new discovery was the "Garnet Star" of Herschel also known as "mu Cephei".
But Emily Levesque, of of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who also worked on the project, said "these stars are not the most massive known. They are only 25 times the mass of the Sun, while the most massive stars may have as much material as 150 suns."
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