You know how sometimes you're just sitting out in a field with your homies, looking up at the stars and thinking man, the universe is so BIG... and I'm just so small! Thanks to the Very Large Telescope in Chile, Professor Paul Crowther at Sheffield University, and some good old-fashioned Hubble data, you can feel just a little bit smaller. Crowther and his team have measured the giant known as R136a1 to be 265 times the size of the sun. That's a pretty cool size, but not quite as cool as the 320 solar masses it was at birth -- nothing to sneeze at, since previous discoveries had the largest stars somewhere around 150 solar masses. It's also the most luminous star ever found, at 10 million times brighter than the sun. Even so, don't get your hopes up trying to see this with your telescope (unless it's, you know, Very Large) because it's a good 165,000 light years away. Doesn't mean you can't look in its direction and smile, though.
[Image: ESO / M. Kornmesser]