LBV 1806−20

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LBV 1806-20

Infrared image of Cluster 1806_20. LBV 1806−20 is the brightest star, on the left.
Credit: Hubble Space Telescope
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Sagittarius
Right ascension 18h 08m 40.31s[1]
Declination −20° 24′ 41.1″[1]
Evolutionary stage candidate LBV[2]
Spectral type O9 - B2[2]
Apparent magnitude (J) 13.93[3]
Apparent magnitude (H) 10.75[3]
Apparent magnitude (K) 8.89[3]
Distance8.7k[4] pc
Mass36[4] M
Radius46-145[a] R
Luminosity~2,000,000[2][5][6] L
Temperature18,000–32,000[3] K
Age3.0 – 4.5[1] Myr
Other designations
2MASS J18084031-2024411
Database references

LBV 1806−20 is a candidate luminous blue variable (LBV) and likely binary star located around 28,000 light-years (8,700 pc) from the Sun, towards the center of the Milky Way. It has an estimated mass of around 36 solar masses and an estimated variable luminosity of around two million times that of the Sun. It is highly luminous but is invisible from the Solar System at visual wavelengths because less than one billionth of its visible light reaches us [further explanation needed].

When first discovered, LBV 1806−20 was considered both the most luminous and most massive star known, which challenged scientific understanding of the formation of massive stars. Recent estimates place it somewhat nearer to Earth, which when combined with its binary nature mean that it is now well within the expected range of parameters for extremely luminous stars in the galaxy. It is estimated at 2 million times as luminous as the sun which makes it one of the most luminous stars in the galaxy.


LBV 1806−20 lies at the core of radio nebula G10.0–0.3, which is believed to be primarily powered by its stellar wind.[7] It is a member of the 1806−20 open cluster, itself a component of W31, one of the largest H II regions in the Milky Way. Cluster 1806−20 is made up of some highly unusual stars, including four Wolf–Rayet stars, several OB stars, and a magnetar (SGR 1806−20).[4]


The spectral type of LBV 1806−20 is uncertain and possibly variable. It has been constrained to between O9 and B2 on the basis of an infrared HeI line equivalent width. The spectrum shows strong emission in the Paschen and Brackett series of hydrogen, but also emission lines of helium, FeII, MgII, and NaI. The lines are broad and have uneven profiles, some showing P Cygni profiles.[3] High resolution spectra show that some HeI absorption lines are doubled.[2]


Intervening dust in the direction of the Galactic Center absorb an estimated 35 magnitudes at visual wavelengths,[3] and so most observations are conducted using infrared telescopes.[4][1] On the basis of its luminosity and spectral type it is suspected of being an LBV, but despite the name the characteristic photometric and spectroscopic variations have not yet been observed so it remains just a candidate.[2][5]


To account for the doubled HeI lines in its spectrum and the inconsistent mass, luminosity and age estimates, LBV 1806-20 has been proposed to be a binary. The emission lines are single, so only one star appears to have a dense stellar wind as might be expected from an LBV.[2]


  1. ^ Applying the Stefan–Boltzmann law with a nominal solar effective temperature of 5,772 K: and


  1. ^ a b c d Figer, Donald F.; Najarro, Francisco; Geballe, T. R.; Blum, R. D.; Kudritzki, Rolf P. (2005). "Massive Stars in the SGR 1806-20 Cluster". The Astrophysical Journal. 622 (1): L49. arXiv:astro-ph/0501560. Bibcode:2005ApJ...622L..49F. doi:10.1086/429159. S2CID 14696048.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Figer, D. F.; Najarro, F.; Kudritzki, R. P. (2004). "The Double-lined Spectrum of LBV 1806-20". The Astrophysical Journal. 610 (2): L109. arXiv:astro-ph/0406316. Bibcode:2004ApJ...610L.109F. doi:10.1086/423306. S2CID 118975170.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Eikenberry, S. S.; Matthews, K.; Lavine, J. L.; Garske, M. A.; Hu, D.; Jackson, M. A.; Patel, S. G.; Barry, D. J.; Colonno, M. R.; Houck, J. R.; Wilson, J. C.; Corbel, S.; Smith, J. D. (2004). "Infrared Observations of the Candidate LBV 1806‐20 and Nearby Cluster Stars". The Astrophysical Journal. 616 (1): 506–518. arXiv:astro-ph/0404435. Bibcode:2004ApJ...616..506E. doi:10.1086/422180. S2CID 18042381.
  4. ^ a b c d Bibby, J. L.; Crowther, P. A.; Furness, J. P.; Clark, J. S. (2008). "A downward revision to the distance of the 1806-20 cluster and associated magnetar from Gemini Near-Infrared Spectroscopy". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 386 (1): L23. arXiv:0802.0815. Bibcode:2008MNRAS.386L..23B. doi:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2008.00453.x. S2CID 14466990.
  5. ^ a b Nazé, Y.; Rauw, G.; Hutsemékers, D. (2012). "The first X-ray survey of Galactic luminous blue variables". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 538: A47. arXiv:1111.6375. Bibcode:2012A&A...538A..47N. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201118040. S2CID 43688343.
  6. ^ Abdalla, H.; Abramowski, A.; Aharonian, F.; Ait Benkhali, F.; Akhperjanian, A. G.; Angüner, E. O.; Arrieta, M.; Aubert, P.; Backes, M.; Balzer, A.; Barnard, M.; Becherini, Y.; Becker Tjus, J.; Berge, D.; Bernhard, S.; Bernlöhr, K.; Birsin, E.; Blackwell, R.; Böttcher, M.; Boisson, C.; Bolmont, J.; Bordas, P.; Bregeon, J.; Brun, F.; Brun, P.; Bryan, M.; Bulik, T.; Capasso, M.; Carr, J.; et al. (2018). "Extended VHE γ-ray emission towards SGR1806−20, LBV 1806−20, and stellar cluster Cl* 1806−20". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 612: A11. arXiv:1606.05404. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201628695. S2CID 118345803.
  7. ^ Yeung, Paul K. H.; Kong, Albert K. H.; Tam, P. H. Thomas; Lin, Lupin C. C.; Hui, C. Y.; Hu, Chin-Ping; Cheng, K. S. (2016). "Studying the SGR 1806-20/Cl* 1806-20 Region Using the Fermi Large Area Telescope". The Astrophysical Journal. 827 (1): 41. arXiv:1606.01707. Bibcode:2016ApJ...827...41Y. doi:10.3847/0004-637X/827/1/41. S2CID 118434103.