'Betelgeuse on steroids' sheds light on how rare massive stars die

Astronomers created a detailed 3D map of VY Canis Majoris, a dying red hypergiant star   located over 3,000 light-years from Earth.

 they swirled around VY Canis Majoris and mapped them to structures of ejected material that extend for billions of miles. 

VY Canis Majoris is a pulsing variable star in the constellation Canis Major with a mass estimated to be 17 times that of the sun

The death throes of these massive stars differ from those of lower-mass stars, such as the sun

 massive stars seem to experience mass loss events when they enter this stage of their existence.

The team thinks that if these massive stars evolve into supernovas, astronomers would, theoretically, observe more of these stellar explosions. 

They did this on individual regions of the hypergiant and then matched the results to a timeline of mass ejection events from VY Canis Majoris 

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