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View from a Scope | August 25, 2019

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Questions & Answers

Stars

What is the fastest-spinning star ever found?

A Hot blue star 25 times the mass of the sun, is the fastest-spinning star known. It is called VFTS 102 and it resides within the Tarantula Nebula. At its surface the star rotates at about 600km/s (more than 1 million mph). Although VFTS 102 is the fastest rotating ‘normal’ star, pulsars actually spin more quickly. Pulsars are the collapsed cores of stars that have gone supernova. The fastest spinning pulsar discovered is Ter5ad. It rotates 716 times a second, which means the rotation speed at its equator is about 158 million mph or about 24 per cent the speed of light.

Do Stars spin on their axis like planets?

Stellar rotation is usually the result of the rotation in the gas cloud that condensed to form the star. However unlike planets stars are not solid bodies so their rotation is not always simple.

Firstly stars like many planets suffer from equatorial bulges. The faster the rotation, the more pronounced the bulge. Many stars also show differential rotation where the rotation at the equator is faster than the rotation at the poles.

Pulsars which are magnetized remains of exploded stars, rotate very quickly. Around 716 times every second!