A known star has reemerged on the scene as the second brightest in our galaxy and may in fact be the brightest.
The Peony nebula star shines as brightly as 3.2 million suns, but lurked in obscurity among interstellar gas and dust in the central region of the Milky Way — until now.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope used infrared vision to scope out the star behind the Peony nebula's reddish cloud of dust.
The European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope in Chile also used infrared vision to see the star's true power behind its dusty veil.
Other stars are much brighter as seen from Earth, but that's because of their proximity. Both distance and dust served to shelter the Peony nebula star from Earth observers 26,000 light years away.
The newcomer is thought to fall short of the current brightest star, Eta Carina, which blazes with the light of 4.7 million suns. But astronomers hold out the possibility that the Peony nebular star may prove even brighter — if they could just get a better look at it.
They also suspect that other bright talent may lurk in the star-packed region, which suggests a new star search is in order.
"There are probably other stars just as bright if not brighter in our galaxy that remain hidden from view," said Lidia Oskinova, astronomer at Potsdam University in Germany.
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