Astronomy:List of largest stars

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Relative sizes of the planets in the Solar System and several well-known stars:

Below is a list of the largest stars currently known, ordered by radius. The unit of measurement used is the radius of the Sun (approximately 695,700 km; 432,288 mi).

The exact order of this list is incomplete, as great uncertainties remain, especially when deriving various parameters used in calculations, such as stellar luminosity and effective temperature. Often stellar radii can only be expressed as an average or within a large range of values. Values for stellar radii vary significantly in sources and throughout the literature, mostly as the boundary of the very tenuous atmosphere (opacity) greatly differs depending on the wavelength of light in which the star is observed.

Radii of several stars can be directly obtained by stellar interferometry. Other methods can use lunar occultations or from eclipsing binaries, which can be used to test other indirect methods of finding true stellar size. Only a few useful supergiant stars can be occulted by the Moon, including Antares. Examples of eclipsing binaries are Epsilon Aurigae, VV Cephei, and HR 5171.

Caveats

The extreme red hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris compared to the Sun and Earth's orbit.

Complex issues exist in determining the true radii of the largest stars, which in many cases do display significant errors. The following lists are generally based on various considerations or assumptions; these include:

  • Largest stars are usually expressed in units of the solar radius (R), where 1.00 R equals 695,700 kilometres.
  • Stellar radii or diameters are usually derived only approximately using Stefan-Boltzmann law for the deduced stellar luminosity and effective surface temperature.
  • Stellar distances, and their errors, for most stars, remain uncertain or poorly determined.
  • Many supergiant stars have extended atmospheres, and many are embedded within opaque dust shells, making their true effective temperatures highly uncertain.
  • Many extended supergiant atmospheres also significantly change in size over time, regularly or irregularly pulsating over several months or years as variable stars. This makes adopted luminosities poorly known and may significantly change the quoted radii.
  • Other direct methods for determining stellar radii rely on lunar occultations or from eclipses in binary systems. This is only possible for a very small number of stars.

Extragalactic large stars

In this list are some examples of more distant extragalactic stars, which may have slightly different properties and natures than the currently largest-known stars in the Milky Way:

  • Some red supergiants in the Magellanic Clouds are suspected to have slightly different limiting temperatures and luminosities. Such stars may exceed accepted limits by undergoing large eruptions or change their spectral types over just a few months.
  • A survey of the Magellanic Clouds has catalogued many red supergiants, where many of them exceed 700 R (490,000,000 km; 3.3 astronomical unit|AU; 300,000,000 mi). Largest of these is about 1,200-1,300 R, though a few recent discoveries show stars reaching sizes of >1,500.[1]

List

Template:List of largest stars rowTemplate:List of largest stars row
List of the largest stars
Star name Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Method[lower-alpha 1] Notes

Template:List of largest stars row

LGGS J004539.99+415404.1 1,980[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
Orbit of Saturn 1,940-2,169 Reported for reference
LGGS J004520.67+414717.3 1,870[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
WOH G64 1,540[3] L/Teff Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Westerlund 1-26 1,530–1,580[4] L/Teff Very uncertain parameters for an unusual star with strong radio emission. The spectrum is variable but apparently the luminosity is not.
VY Canis Majoris 1,420[5] AD VY CMa has been described as the largest star in the Milky Way although galactic red supergiants above are possibly larger but they have less accurate radius estimates.[6] Older estimates originally estimated the radius of VY CMa to be above 3,000 R,[7] or as little as 600 R.[8] The 1,420 R measure has a margin of error of ±120 R.[5]
AH Scorpii 1,411±124[9] AD AH Sco is a variable by nearly 3 magnitudes in the visual range, and an estimated 20% in total luminosity. The variation in diameter is not clear because the temperature also varies.
LGGS J004428.48+415130.9 1,410[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004312.43+413747.1 1,270[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004514.91+413735.0 1,250[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004428.12+415502.9 1,240[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004125.23+411208.9 1,200[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004524.97+420727.2 1,170[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004047.22+404445.5 1,140[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004035.08+404522.3 1,140[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
SW Cephei 1,131[10] L/Teff
LGGS J004124.80+411634.7 1,130[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
VX Sagittarii 1,120-1,550[11] L/Teff A pulsating variable star with a variation of over 7 magnitudes in visual brightness.
LGGS J004107.11+411635.6 1,100[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004031.00+404311.1 1,080[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
Trumpler 27-1 1,073[10] L/Teff
LGGS J004531.13+414825.7 1,070[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
Orbit of Jupiter 1,064-1,173 Reported for reference
V766 Centauri Aa 1,060–1,160[12] L/Teff
LGGS J004114.18+403759.8 1,040[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
ST Cephei 1,037[10] L/Teff
LGGS J004125.72+411212.7 1,020[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LGGS J004059.50+404542.6 1,020[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LMC 150040 1,010[13] L/T eff
KW Sagittarii 1,009±142[9] AD
VV Cephei A 1,000[14] EB VV Cep A is a highly distorted star in a close binary system, losing mass to the secondary for at least part of its orbit. Data from the most recent eclipse has cast additional doubt on the accepted model of the system. Older estimates give up to 1,900 R[15]
RW Cygni 1,000[10] L/Teff
Sextans A 10 995[16] L/Teff
NR Vulpeculae 980[15] L/Teff
Mu Cephei (Herschel's "Garnet Star") 972[17] L/Teff Prototype of the obsolete class of the Mu Cephei variables and also one of reddest stars in the night sky in terms of the B-V color index.[18] Other estimates have given only 650 R based on much closer distances.[19] Margin of possible error: ±228 R[17]
Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) 887[20] AD Star with the third largest apparent size after R Doradus and the Sun. Another estimate gives 955±217 R[21]
Sextans A 5 870[16] L/Teff
RT Carinae 861[10] L/Teff
HD 143183 (V558 Normae) 832[10] L/Teff
BC Cygni 820[10] L/Teff
V396 Centauri 808[10] L/Teff
U Arietis 801[22] AD
RT Ophiuchi 801[22] AD
U Lacertae 785[10] L/Teff
HD 155737 767[10] L/Teff
CK Carinae 761[10] L/Teff
UY Scuti 755[10] L/Teff
Outer limits of the asteroid belt 750-900 Reported for reference
AZ Cygni 748[10] L/Teff
YZ Persei 746[10] L/Teff
UU Pegasi 742[22] AD
GU Cephei 730[23] AD
AD Persei 724[24] L/Teff
V641 Cassiopeiae 716[10] L/Teff
V Camelopardalis 716[22] AD
Sextans A 7 710[16] L/Teff
Antares A (Alpha Scorpii A) 707[23] (varies by 19%)[25] AD Antares was originally calculated to be over 850 R,[26][27] but those estimates are likely to have been affected by asymmetry of the atmosphere of the star.[28]
HD 179821 704[29] DSKE HD 179821 may be a yellow hypergiant or a much less luminous star.
V407 Puppis 703[23] AD
LGGS J004255.95+404857.5 700-785[30] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
V528 Carinae 700[15] L/Teff
LGGS J003950.98+405422.5 700[2] L/Teff Located in the Andromeda Galaxy
LMC 169754 700[1] L/Teff Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud
LMC 65558 700[1] L/Teff Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud
SP77 30-6 (WOH S66) 700[31] L/Teff
V770 Cassiopeiae 700[23] AD
The following stars with sizes below 700 solar radii are kept here for comparison
V354 Cephei 685[10]-1,520[15] L/Teff
KY Cygni 672[10]-1,420[15] L/Teff
V509 Cassiopeiae (HR 8752) 590[23] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
CE Tauri 587-593[32] (-608[33]) AD Can be occulted by the Moon, allowing accurate determination of its apparent diameter.
V382 Carinae 471[23] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
CW Leonis 390[34]-826[35] L/Teff Prototype of carbon stars. CW Leo was mistakenly identified as the claimed planet "Nibiru" or "Planet X".
Inner limits of the asteroid belt 380 Reported for reference
MY Cephei 363[10] Not to be confused with Mu Cephei (see above). Older estimates have given up to 2,440 R based on much cooler temperatures.[36]
IRC +10420 357[37] L/Teff A yellow hypergiant that has increased its temperature into the LBV range. De beck et al. 2010 calculates 1,342 R based on a much cooler temperature.[35]
Mira A (Omicron Ceti) 332-402[38] AD Prototype Mira variable. De beck et al. 2010 calculates 541 R.[35]
The Pistol Star 306[39] AD Blue hypergiant, among the most massive and luminous stars known.
R Doradus 298[40] AD Star with the second largest apparent size after the Sun.
Orbit of Mars 297-358 Reported for reference
La Superba (Y Canum Venaticorum) 289[23] AD Referred to as La Superba by Angelo Secchi. Currently one of the coolest and reddest stars.
Sun's red giant phase 256[41] At this point, the Sun will engulf Mercury and Venus, and possibly the Earth although it will move away from its orbit since the Sun will lose a third of its mass. During the helium burning phase, it will shrink to 10 R but will later grow again and become an unstable AGB star, and then a white dwarf after making a planetary nebula.[42][43] Reported for reference
Rho Cassiopeiae 242[23] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
Eta Carinae A ~240[44] Previously thought to be the most massive single star, but in 2005 it was realized to be a binary system. During the Great Eruption, the size was much larger at around 1,400 R.[45] η Car is calculated to be between 60 R and 881 R.[46]
Orbit of Earth 215 (211-219) Reported for reference
Solar System Habitable Zone 200-520[47] (uncertain) Reported for reference
Orbit of Venus 154-157 Reported for reference
Epsilon Aurigae A (Almaaz) 143-358[48] AD ε Aur was incorrectly claimed in 1970 as the largest star with a size between 2,000 R and 3,000 R,[49] even though it later turned out not to be an infrared light star but rather a dusk torus surrounding the system.
Deneb (Alpha Cygni) 99.84[23] AD Prototype Alpha Cygni variable.
Peony Star 92[50] AD Candidate for most luminous star in the Milky Way.
Canopus (Alpha Carinae) 71[51] AD Second brightest star in the night sky.
Orbit of Mercury 66-100 Reported for reference
LBV 1806-20 46-145[52] L/Teff Formerly a candidate for the most luminous star in the Milky Way with 40 million L,[53] but the luminosity has been revised later only 2 million L.[54][55]
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 43.06[23] AD
Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris) 37.5[56] AD The current northern pole star.
R136a1 28.8[57]-35.4[58] AD Also on record as the most massive and luminous star known (315 M and 8.71 million L).
Arcturus (Alpha Boötis) 24.25[23] AD Brightest star in the northern hemisphere.
HDE 226868 20-22[59] The supergiant companion of black hole Cygnus X-1. The black hole is around 500,000 times smaller than the star.
Sun 1 The largest object in the Solar System.
Reported for reference


  1. Methods for calculating the radius:
    • AD: radius determined from angular diameter and distance
    • L/Teff: radius calculated from bolometric luminosity and effective temperature
    • DSKE: radius calculated using the disk emission
    • EB: radius determined from observations of the eclipsing binary

See also

References

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