Fly me to a star!

R136 star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula

A “monster star” in the Tarantula Nebula discovered by astronomers at Sheffield University seems to have attracted a considerable amount of mass media attention.

Excellent stuff, though a pedant might wish to challenge the detail of the media presentation. The lyrically named ‘R136’ is not an especially large celestial body, having a diameter only 40 times that of our Sun. In the heavens there exist so-called red giant stars thousands of times bigger than our neighbourhood light giver. Most notable about R136a1 are its mass and luminosity.

Still, in none of the reports I’ve seen is there any reference to the size of Wales, so I guess we should be thankful for small mercies. This is a golden age of popular science communication, and anything that pisses off Simon Jenkins has got to be good.