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ESO's Very Large Telescope has picked up the fastest rotating star found so far. This massive bright young star lies in our neighbouring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light-years from Earth. Astronomers think that it may have had a violent past and has been ejected from a double star system by its exploding companion. An international team of astronomers has been using ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, to make a survey of the heaviest and brightest stars in NGC 2070, the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Among the many brilliant stars in this stellar nursery the team has spotted one, called VFTS 102, that is rotating at more than two million kilometres per hour - more than three hundred times faster than the Sun and very close to the point at which it would be torn apart due to centrifugal forces. VFTS 102 is the fastest rotating star known to date. This view shows part of the Tarantula Nebula. At the center lies the brilliant star VFTS 102. This view includes both visible-light and infrared images from the Wide Field Imager at the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at La Silla and the 4.1-meter infrared VISTA telescope at Paranal. VFTS 102 is the most rapidly rotating star ever found.
Credit: ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey.
Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit