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'Gator Star' Makes It to the Guinness Book of World Records

In 2004, UF Astronomy Professor Stephen Eikenberry and his group discovered the biggest brightest star ever known, which has earned it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records 2008 edition. The star, called LBV 1806-20 and located in a cluster of freakishly large stars on the opposite side of our Milky Way Galaxy, shines as bright as 5 million Suns and contains more than 150 times as much material as a single Sun.

LBV 1806-20 as compared to the sun

When asked about the star's complicated name, Eikenberry noted, "LBV stands for Luminous Blue Variable -- the class to which this object belongs. Some folks tried to nickname it the 'Gator Star', in honor of UF, but astronomers can be kind of stubborn about proper names for things. Just ask Pluto!". Eikenberry says that he is excited about the listing in Guinness, and that his research group at UF continues to study this unusual object and the cluster around it. One particular topic is whether LBV 1806-20 could be a binary system of two stars orbiting around each other in a close dance. Either way, LBV 1806-20 is either the brightest single star or the brightest pair of stars in the known Universe. For more information, please read the official UF press release.

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Buffy Lockette

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