LONDON – A huge ball of brightly burning gas drifting through a neighboring galaxy may be the heaviest star ever discovered — hundreds of times more massive than the sun, scientists said Wednesday after working out its weight for the first time.

Those behind the find say the star, called R136a1, may once have weighed as much as 320 solar masses. Astrophysicist Paul Crowther said the obese star — twice as heavy as any previously discovered — has already slimmed down considerably over its lifetime.

In fact, it’s burning itself off with such intensity that it shines at nearly 10 million times the luminosity of the sun.

Crowther, an astrophysicist at the University of Sheffield, said the giant is at the center of a star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula, which is in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy about 165,000 light-years away from the Milky Way.