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Astronomers unexpectedly find an abundance of massive stars

The star-breeding nursery in 30 Doradus. Photo: NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope

Extremely massive stars may be more abundant in at least one corner of the universe than astronomers have previously thought, according to new research published today in the Science. The finding, if confirmed elsewhere in the cosmos, could change our understanding about the evolution of galaxies, how these stars brought the universe came out of its dark period, the number of supernovae and the occurrence of black hole mergers in the universe.

"These stars and black holes are responsible for converting the universe into the state we see today," says lead author Fabian Schneider from the University of Oxford. "It is important to know how many progenitor stars may have been out in the universe."