8. Super-Gigantic Stars Are Surprisingly Plentiful
The universe appears to be far more spangled with massive stars (10 or more solar masses) than formerly indicated.
Astronomers surveyed the 180,000-light-year-distant Tarantula Nebula (aka 30 Doradus), a prominent stellar nursery, and found 30 percent more “extremely, extremely massive stars” than expected.
And the most massive stars are getting upgraded. It was believed that 200 solar masses was the upper limit, but astronomers are raising that figure to 300 solar masses. This implies a much more violent universe with 70 percent more supernovae and an 180 percent increase in black hole formation.
7. The Universe Is Teeming With Synestias
Planetary bodies came in about two flavors, planets and ringed planets. But that family just expanded with the addition of the synestia, a much bigger cloud of vaporized rock shaped like a red blood cell.
These wispy monsters are the result of catastrophic crashes between two rapidly spinning, planet-sized chunks. The angular momentum from each body is conserved and whips up their shattered remains into a puff of molten debris “with no solid or liquid surface.”
It’s crazy to think that there’s a theoretically super-common, entirely new type of planetary body that we haven’t directly observed yet. Probably because it doesn’t last very long, maybe only 100 years, a hilariously infinitesimal span in cosmic terms.