What word do scientists use to describe the most ginormous star ever discovered?

If you find something that’s bigger than you thought was physically possible, how would you describe it? You start with what you already have, which is R136a1, the equivalent of a cosmic ZIP code. The R stands for Radcliffe Observatory, which located the star in the first place (long before anyone knew its immensity.)

Massive isn’t the same thing as ”big”  in astronomy.  Mass is roughly equivalent to weight, and R136a1 is hefty: it once weighed 320 times as much as our sun (Sol.) That was when it was born. Because of its density, the star is unstable and part of its mass is constantly coming apart. (Insert your own jokes about the other kinds of stars coming apart.)

R136a1 is what astrophysicists call a hypergiant. The names for largest of the large are as follows: subgiants, giants, bright giants supergiants and the densest, hypergiants.

As faithful readers of this blog know, we don’t shy away from explanations of complex systems. The arcanum of stellar density, however, defies reasonable explication. The mythological basis of “giant” is a little more down to Earth.

The violent outbursts of hypergiants echo the primal, savage Greek tale of the Giants, the children of Gaea and Uranus before Zeus and other Olympians. Many mythologies feature battles between huge human-like creatures and gods, but the Greek gigantes form the basis for the English word. The fight is called the gigantomachy. Add hyper, Greek for “over, beyond, overmuch, above measure,” and you have a ten-letter word worthy of such a brobdingnagian star.

As if R136a1 hasn’t already impressed with you with its astronomical and etymological pedigree, consider the location of the hypergiant; the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud. That’s the hippest home for a star since Hercules.

Legal Notes; Prospects for immigration reform (Fifth of a series)

The Filipino Express November 20, 2005 | Seguritan, Reuben S.

Seguritan, Reuben S.

Filipino Express, The 11-20-2005 Editor’s Note: The author is the General Counsel of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and the Chairman of the NaFFAA Committee on Immigration Reform. He frequently writes and speaks on immigrant issues. For further information, you may call him at 212 695 5281 or visit his website at www.seguritan.com.

A MAJOR immigration legislation could be passed before the elections next year.

This assessment is based on recent political developments and statements from key players in Congress and the White House.

Noteworthy events followed the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff gave their respective testimonies.

Senate Action

For one, Senators John McCain, John Cornyn, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist have agreed that “comprehensive immigration reform is the way to go”.

This expression of solidarity between the proponents of the two rival immigration reform bills and the person who controls the Senate agenda indicates that the Senate is ready to vote on a comprehensive immigration reform package early next year.

The specifics of the reform package though are still to be ironed out.

In the meantime, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel introduced his own immigration package which basically draws from the bipartisan bill he co-sponsored with former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle.

The package consists of four separate, but related bills, namely: S. 1916, the Strengthening America’s Security Act of 2005; S. 1917, the Employment Verification Act of 2005; S. 1918, the Strengthening America’s Workforce Act of 2005; and S. 1919, the Immigrant Accountability Act of 2005.

Hagel’s immigration reform package attempts a balance between strengthening enforcement measures with widening the channels for legal immigration. The first two bills deal with enforcement and national security, while the other two provide for the legalization of undocumented aliens and a path to permanent residency.

Immigration rights advocates, however, are not satisfied with the provision requiring short-term undocumented migrants to return to their home countries before they can apply for a temporary visa.

Though announced separately, this four-bill package appears to be consistent with the staggered approach that the Senate is expected to take for comprehensive immigration reform.

House Action in our site immigration reform news

A comprehensive immigration reform bill may be more difficult to pass in the House than in the Senate in light of the restrictionists’ hard line enforcement-first approach.

According to a recent report, some 80 members of the House led by restrictionist Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Lamar Smith (R-TX) and John Hostettler (R-IN) have expressed their opposition to the guest worker plan of the White House and insisted that enforcement measures be implemented efficiently and completely first.

Out of the 232 Republicans in the House, more than 60 are avowed restrictionists. The remaining 170 Republicans, according to some observers, may not be enough to support comprehensive immigration reform because they do not sit in the relevant committees and would likely vote on the bill according to how the issues are put forward to them. This would make it difficult for the House to move forward with any immigration reform bill.

There is, of course, the possibility that the political configuration may change. The opposing groups within the Republican Party may eventually unify under a single proposal for immigration reform that reflects the extent of President Bush’s promise to fix the immigration system, most likely a guest worker program. go to site immigration reform news


With the Senate ready to vote on immigration reform, the public can expect floor action by February 2006, and the true debate will occur at the conference committee level where the Senate comprehensive reform advocates will face-off with the outspoken restrictionists of the House.

Considering the urgency of immigration reform as both a national security and an economic issue, and in light of the recent release of a detailed guest worker proposal from the White House, President Bush may step in to bridge the differences between the opposing groups within the Republican Party to push the immigration reform bill forward.

As far as political timing goes, the Republican should — and will likely — settle their differences on immigration reform and come up with a resolution to this contentious issue before the elections next year.


The question after the dust settles is, what will this immigration reform look like?

Since the Senate is acting first, the immigration reform bill to be taken up at the conference committee will be comprehensive, meaning it will deal with border security issues, the need for guest workers and the legalization of undocumented migrants. This development augurs well for reform advocates because if the House moved first, the issues will likely be focused on anti-terrorism provisions and the expulsion of undocumented migrants.

Some surmise that the best case scenario in the Senate would be a 50 to 55 vote for the McCain-Kennedy Bill, with a major amendment lifted from the Cornyn-Kyl Bill.

There are speculations as well that the House will either take up the Cornyn-Kyl Bill or draw up its own bill with input from the restrictionist caucus and guest worker provisions. If such a bill passes the House, it would be difficult to project how the resulting immigration reform bill would look like.

On the other hand, the House has its own counterpart of the McCain-Kennedy Bill, H.B. 2330, under the joint sponsorship of Reps. Jeff Flake, Luis Gutierrez and Jim Kolbe, which should inevitably be considered vis–vis restrictionist bills.

Many are optimistic that the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (under identical bills, S. 1033 and H.R. 2330) will serve as the framework for immigration reform considering that Senators McCain and Kennedy are joined by Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Sam Brownback (R-KS).

In the House, Senators Flake, Gutierrez and Kolbe, are presently joined by colleagues across party lines, namely: Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Artur Davis (D-AL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Jane Harman (D-CA), Ray La Hood (D-IL), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Ralph Regula (R-OH), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Mike Honda (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and James Walsh (R-NY).

For now, advocates of a humane and genuine immigration reform must spare no effort in convincing their representatives in Congress to support the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 all the way.


Seguritan, Reuben S.


  1. Jack -  April 23, 2014 - 1:33 am

    Whoever wrote this didn’t do their research. Massive stars aren’t very dense at all. In fact, air is tens of thousands times denser than the most massive and largest stars in the universe. I suggest you update your post, and next time, DO SOME FUCKING RESEARCH BEFORE POSTING.

  2. Connor -  November 12, 2012 - 2:40 am


  3. RandomBystader -  July 20, 2012 - 4:42 am

    As a name may i suggest Jotun, like the giants of norse mythology

    • RedLeafRenegade -  October 22, 2015 - 7:15 am

      Justin Bieber so dense his stardom is comming apart :) ;) :) ;) ;):) ;) :) :)

  4. OnceInABlueMoon -  April 22, 2012 - 1:23 pm

    R136a1 sounds too much like a computer in my opinion. But the size…the sheer beauty of it is ineffable! Which is why I can’t think up a fitting name for it.

  5. RAMONAMA -  October 14, 2011 - 5:08 am

    The Problem with human beings is we want to predict future, which is obviously unseen..

    What if the aliens, speak some other language, say sanskrit for instance?

  6. [...] out there, fourteen million miles, give or take two or three. — We still like the “ZEUS CODE” as protocol for future planet and star naming. — The Post office may save itself yet if they [...]

  7. Ivanna Ferguson -  September 7, 2010 - 5:59 pm

    Yall could only be bored leaving these weird comments…………LOLOL smiley face i think its cool though……………love and kisses.

  8. Dillan -  August 11, 2010 - 5:51 pm

    @ fredor: hahahaha…Good one! I like that name…made me laugh..two thumbs up for that name!!hahaha..

  9. csmith -  August 4, 2010 - 2:09 pm

    We should name new stars the way I name sims – close your eyes and plunk your fingers on the keyboard randomly. It’s how I came up with my favortie sims: Nviels and Djubijo Kolcott.

    It would be better than giving stars average names like Kevin. Who would want to name a star “Kevin”? What if there were planets around it? Would it become the “Kevin System”? Reason scoffs at such folly.

    Did I mention that the fact that I have 33 teeth proves my lineage to the Romanovs?

    Also, does anyone know why people keep asking me what color the sky is in my world?

  10. Person! -  July 26, 2010 - 9:17 am

    why do people want to leave it up to scientist? science is for everyone, not just incredibly smart people. anyone can come up with a name, or anything. would you want to name a child with a number? everyone would get so confused and people can forget a (almost random) assortment of letters and numbers quite quickly (at least I can). Naming the star would give people a chance to remember which star everyone is talking about. I like the riegal/regal thing. that’s clever.

  11. dave the ace -  July 26, 2010 - 5:40 am

    just call it dave! obscure enough

  12. Ohaki -  July 24, 2010 - 8:41 am

    Obviously the star will be named: OLIVER because I have an ego at least 320x the mass of the average human

  13. forex robot -  July 24, 2010 - 8:03 am

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  14. MrGayPride -  July 23, 2010 - 10:06 am

    “Arcana” is plural, but is treated in the blog as singular. Fie!

  15. Murray -  July 23, 2010 - 2:56 am

    What role do theses things play in the evolution of the universe? Maybe in naming such giants this should be kept in mind, or not!

  16. Ariztophanes -  July 22, 2010 - 7:25 pm

    @magic yexta: Just what DO you think “astronomy” means, literally?

  17. magic texta -  July 22, 2010 - 6:02 pm

    @ Kim.

    Huh. I’d rather work at maccas!!!

  18. Rico -  July 22, 2010 - 5:12 pm

    I sort of get how circumference/diameter of stellar objects is calculated. How is mass determined?

  19. Asa -  July 22, 2010 - 4:50 pm

    Hmm….a name for the star? I’m actually quite happy with R136a1. But if there was a name for a hypergiant star, I think that it ought to be called what the SCIENTISTS want to call it…

  20. Jackaferdelabor` -  July 22, 2010 - 4:34 pm

    ALL of you are so funny. I’m at work wasting my time simply reading these comments. 1000 chortles*

  21. Kim -  July 22, 2010 - 4:21 pm

    Magic Texta
    Naming them gives people a job! It is all about economics!

  22. Ryan -  July 22, 2010 - 4:20 pm


  23. Dan -  July 22, 2010 - 4:20 pm

    I guess thats the most massive

  24. Dan -  July 22, 2010 - 4:19 pm

    I thought the largest star was VY Canis Majoris

  25. Marcps -  July 22, 2010 - 3:59 pm

    Call it Lula

  26. ZEUS CODE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  July 22, 2010 - 3:55 pm

    [...] nearest thing we figure as the HOT WORD of this day is “ZEUS CODE” in some roundabout inter stellar way. — R136a1 — is the thigamajig they give it when [...]

  27. fedor -  July 22, 2010 - 3:21 pm

    If you were an ant you mgiht want to.

  28. Sandy -  July 22, 2010 - 3:13 pm

    Sebastian, don’t be givin’ Jamie heat bro. I understand what Jamie is talkin’ ’bout. I get rapped by my parents all the time. Jus’ a day in the life.

  29. Cathy M -  July 22, 2010 - 2:35 pm

    If it was up to me, I would call it “The Star of Humanity” or the “Mysticism Star”. Its magnificence, grandeur, and impressiveness is a sight most of us will see only in photos, but to be able to look at it through a high-powered telescope would be an amazing sight to behold.

  30. Jaydub -  July 22, 2010 - 2:11 pm

    Thumbs up on the katamari reference. And the 1337 reference made my hubbie and I both giggle.

    And quit allowing others comments to make each other angry, if you don’t have anyhting nice to say, why bother?

  31. magic texta -  July 22, 2010 - 1:54 pm

    Call it “Unul Mare”
    Thats “The Big One” in Romanian

    Actually, why bother calling it anything??? Its almost like i’m gonna pick up all the rocks around my house and give them names. “this ones Harry, this ones Annita, this ones….” How does naming them help???

  32. Eric Overton -  July 22, 2010 - 1:44 pm

    Don’t mean to pick, but there’s a misuse of the word “densest” in the article:

    “…and the densest, hypergiants.”

    Density is mass per unit volume, and although this is a pretty massive star, it’s also voluminous, so it’s not the densest of stars necessarily. It’s a puffy, fluffy mess that has 30x the diameter of our own sun, which gives it a volume that’s 27,000x that of the sun. Since it’s only(!) 320x the mass of the sun, it’s actually got a density that’s 320/27000 = 0.012x that of the sun — which is to say our sun is 80x denser than this thing.

  33. fedor -  July 22, 2010 - 1:32 pm

    I think I need a good rapping to set me straight

  34. fedor -  July 22, 2010 - 1:29 pm

    Lets call it Fatty, since its the fattest biggest most obese star ever. Talk about an oversized load. Someone tell that start about atkins. Its stars like these that make the rest of the universe look bad.

  35. library day -  July 22, 2010 - 1:25 pm

    a screwball, a curvball, taming the shrewd,
    cannot come up with any perfect intermezzo

    brushing by the astronomy gives me the shudder and it is addictive,
    that is one thing for sure

  36. arty -  July 22, 2010 - 1:11 pm

    Jonathan & Jaime: what is wrong with you? Precious is something of great value. Which actually gives a deeper meaning to the movie, as well.

  37. Erik -  July 22, 2010 - 1:06 pm

    Mel – LOVE the reference.
    Jamie – To you I owe the laughter at Mel’s comment. Never connected the 2 until you shared that bit of info. Seeing “Precious” came in on my list of things to do right in between “Fix global warming” and “digging eye out with hot metal spoon.”

    feiseldad – stellar commenting. You are promoting the personal goal of expanding ones own vocabulary. What great words.
    Sebastian’s right about Jamie’s chip.
    Robert – full size image: http://heritage.stsci.edu/gallery/galindex.html
    Great gallery of Hubble shots. I’m not sure if that one is available there yet, or not.

  38. Jonathan Rudd -  July 22, 2010 - 12:46 pm

    My comment is to twitter@Manly_Mel: i really feel that… you are ignorant for trying to call it Precious. If in fact by Precious you are referring to Gabourey Sidibe who played “Precious” in that movie by the same name. This is about a star in the sky not some way of belittling obese women/men. Have some decency and a little less ignorance.

  39. morgan -  July 22, 2010 - 12:23 pm

    I’m not trying to be critical, but if someone is leaving a comment that is going to be critical of someone else’s comment, then he or she should at least spell words correctly.

  40. Ed -  July 22, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    Big Momma

  41. Joerg -  July 22, 2010 - 11:59 am


  42. Vito Giancaspro -  July 22, 2010 - 11:45 am

    If a scientist is not able to apply a name to a star what makes us think that we could?
    In my opinion science is so immense that I will be much simple and suggest to honor the subject in matter by calling the star “Scientifica”

    Thank you!

  43. roland -  July 22, 2010 - 11:39 am

    “The Situation”

  44. frank -  July 22, 2010 - 11:33 am

    Jamie, your spelling is tasteless.

  45. Annie -  July 22, 2010 - 11:23 am

    “Exploits” Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

    Revelation 2:28-29 And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

  46. HaroldisRight -  July 22, 2010 - 10:09 am

    As Harold hinted, there are too many stars to give them all a name.

    The last estimate I saw on the number of stars in the universe was 70 sextrillion. (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/star_count_030722.html)

    That’s 70000000000000000000000, which is meaningless, but to put it another way: if there are six billion people, … 70 sextillion / 6 billion = 1.16666667 × 10^13. That means every single person on earth would have to give a name to about 10 trillion stars.

    Not only do we not have enough time, but I seriously doubt our language could even make that many permutations and combinations of words before all of them looked just as ugly and nonsensical as R146a1.

    When you guys finish your lists let the astronomers know and we can start giving them better names.

  47. Katie Hernandez -  July 22, 2010 - 9:57 am

    OK I’m officially addicted to this site. Thanks for the new 35 letter word- hippopatomaniamonstroequipedaliophobia! R136a1 is not quite the romantic or exciting name we would like it to have but we could never all agree on just one name so kudos for all the great suggestions. Don’t we give nicknames to everything we love anyways? Hmmmm, nice reminder to look @ the stars…

  48. Per Plex -  July 22, 2010 - 9:56 am

    What Anonymous said (on July 22)!
    R136A1 reads like “Riegal”, so just call it “Regal”, “Riga”, “Riega-1″ or WHATEVER. It’s not only a creative way of naming stars and whatnot, but the naming itself is necessary to heighten people’s interest in astronomy. Disagree? Well, then you can take your opinion and shove it up Ur4Nu5.

  49. Sebastian -  July 22, 2010 - 9:44 am

    Jamie regarding Precious you must have a giganitc chip on your shoulder as that might be the most convaluded theory of all times

  50. Harold -  July 22, 2010 - 9:02 am

    The probable reason to name it R136A1 could be mostly because of the extremely large amount of stars.

  51. A11 -  July 22, 2010 - 9:01 am

    Wow, I wonder how long they had to roll their katamari to make -that- star! (Completely fortuitous linking to a great article, Dcom!)

  52. sumi -  July 22, 2010 - 8:52 am

    Nerds. :-)

  53. Janny Wanny -  July 22, 2010 - 8:26 am


  54. G -  July 22, 2010 - 8:24 am

    gignomorous would fit the context

  55. Robert -  July 22, 2010 - 8:07 am

    I Want to see the picture in full size, not just a small corner of the article….Where can I find this picture.

  56. feiseldad -  July 22, 2010 - 7:27 am

    ‘Brobdingnagian’ what a great word! I’m going to try to use that today in a sentence. There is definitely no Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia at this site!

  57. deepti -  July 22, 2010 - 7:21 am

    what is the logic behind putting the numbers to specify & identify such a thing???????

  58. feiseldad -  July 22, 2010 - 7:16 am

    another stellar article.

  59. Anonymous -  July 22, 2010 - 7:07 am

    R136A1… That’s like Riegal LOL call it the “Regal” star. Hooray for 1337.

  60. Pedrotheyodeller -  July 22, 2010 - 6:55 am


  61. awaksleep -  July 22, 2010 - 6:25 am

    I guess a cosmic chasm would be something the gods would want to brace for beforehand in case it strikes back. Because dizziness or laziness would stick around more than expected.

  62. Dudeman -  July 22, 2010 - 6:25 am

    I’m a great fan of science myself but i really think that scientist should come up with more attractive names for things such as a star. I mean, look at how beautiful that is! and they name it R136a1!

  63. Anna -  July 22, 2010 - 6:22 am


  64. Aaron -  July 22, 2010 - 5:28 am

    Acromantula! Because it’s in the Tarantula Nebula, I feel this is appropriate. The acromantula was the gigantic spider in Harry Potter.

  65. Jamie -  July 22, 2010 - 4:58 am

    I hope the “Precious” comment was not a joke in reflection to the movie Precious in witch an extremely over weight girl who is rapped by her father and lives in the slums. If so that is extremely tasteless.

  66. Shoby -  July 22, 2010 - 4:38 am

    its like a myth…..

  67. kitsunebryne -  July 22, 2010 - 2:54 am

    that’s so out-of-this-world!!!

  68. me -  July 22, 2010 - 1:50 am

    call it the zen star

  69. twitter@Manly_Mel -  July 22, 2010 - 1:35 am

    I’m not trying to ruin what astronomers have already used math to determine , but I honestly feel that the term , ” Precious” could replace R136A1. Just my opinion !


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