At a little over 100 times larger than the Earth, the Sun is no doubt a big star. But how big is it compared to the biggest stars in the Universe? Another relatively large star, which most people have heard of is Polaris, the North Star, which can be seen throughout the year in the Northern Hemisphere. At about 30 times larger than the Sun, Polaris is a significantly larger star, but that's not even the start of it. Even larger than the Sun and Polaris combined, coming in at a whopping 1,800 times larger than the Sun, and holding the title of largest star in the known Universe, is VY Canis Majoris. This monster of a super star is so large that it was believed to have broken the laws of stellar evolution when it was first discovered. However, later observations brought it down to size, but it's by no means small.
If VY Canis Majoris existed in our Solar System, the very edge of the star would extend out to the orbit of Saturn, over 841 million miles from the Sun. And yet, there exists an even more bizarre star in the Universe, one which is smaller than both VY Canis Majoris and Polaris, while still being the most massive star in the cosmos.
Enter, R136a1, as it's known, a super star that tips the scales at over 230 times the mass of the Sun, or 1 x 1033 pounds, that's a one followed by thirty-three zeros. R136a1 is so massive that it's believed to be a part of a theorized group of super stars that, once they die, will not only go nova, but hypernova. This type of star explosion is believed to be at least 100 times more powerful than a regular supernova. If there's one thing a super star can be related to in astronomy, it's the likelihood that it will go supernova.
Supernovae are the biggest and most powerful explosions in the entire Universe, taking the power of nuclear fusion itself and harnessing it to create a destructive force capable of destroying planets and even creating black holes. And R136a1 is among a number of stars that takes that destructive force and multiplies it a hundredfold.