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List of largest stars

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Not to be confused with List of most massive stars.
UY Scuti as seen in visible light.

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

The exact order of this list is not complete, nor is it perfectly defined:

  • There are sometimes high uncertainties in derived values and sizes;
  • The distances to most of these stars are uncertain to differing degrees and this uncertainty affects the size measurements;
  • All the stars in this list have extended atmospheres, many are embedded in mostly opaque dust shells or disks, and most pulsate, such that their radii are not well defined;
  • There are theoretical reasons for expecting that no stars in the Milky Way are larger than approximately 1,500 times the Sun, based on evolutionary models and the Hayashi instability zone. The exact limit depends on the metallicity of the star, so for example supergiants in the Magellanic Clouds have slightly different limiting temperature and luminosity. Stars exceeding the limit have been seen to undergo large eruptions and to change their spectral type over just a few months;
  • A survey of the Magellanic Clouds has catalogued most of the red supergiants and 44 of them are larger than the 700 R (490,000,000 km; 3.3 au) cutoff point of this table, with the largest at 1,200–1,300.[1]


List of the largest stars
Star Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Notes Ref.
UY Scuti 1,708 UY Sct is a bright red supergiant and pulsating variable star. Margin of error in size determination: ± 192 solar radii. With its smallest value, its size would be similar to that of V354 Cephei (see below). With its largest value, its size would be similar to that of the possible size of VV Cephei A. [2]
WOH G64 1,540 (–1,730) This would be the largest star in the LMC, but is unusual in position and motion and might still be a foreground halo giant. [3][4]
RW Cephei 1,535 RW Cep is variable both in brightness (by at least a factor of 3) and spectral type (observed from G8 to M), thus probably also in diameter. Because the spectral type and temperature at maximum luminosity are not known, the quoted size is just an estimate. [5][6]
Westerlund 1-26 1,530 Very uncertain parameters for an unusual star with strong radio emission. The spectrum is variable but apparently the luminosity is not. [7]
V354 Cephei 1,520 The luminosity, and hence the size, of V354 Cep are disputed. Levesque et al. 2005, find a high luminosity and consequently very large size of 1,520 solar radii. From the same data, Mauron et al. 2011 derive a lower luminosity, which implies a much smaller size around 690 solar radii. [8]
VY Canis Majoris 1,420 Previously thought to be a star so large that it contradicted stellar evolutionary theory, a newly improved measurement has brought it down to size. Humphreys originally estimated the radius of VY CMa at 1,800-2,100 solar radii. In another opinion (such as Massey, Levesque, and Plez's study) say that the star has a radius around 600 solar radii. Margin of possible error: ± 120 solar radii. [9][10]
KY Cygni 1,420 (2,850?) KY Cygni is located in a region with heavy dust extinction, thus making it hard to determine its size. The quoted size is the value consistent with stellar evolutionary models, the true range may be larger but its value is not known. The radius corresponding to the higher luminosity would be 2,850 solar radii. The upper estimate is due to an unusual K band measuement. [8]
AH Scorpii 1,411 AH Sco is 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. Margin of possible error in size determination: ± 124 solar radii. [2]
VX Sagittarii 1,350 (–1,940) VX Sgr is a pulsating variable with a large visual range and varies significantly in size. [11]
HR 5171 A 1,315 HR 5171 A is a highly distorted star in a close binary system, losing mass to the secondary. It's the largest yellow hypergiant star. But may be a K-type star [12]
SMC 18136 1,310 [1]
Mu Cephei 1,260 Herschel's "Garnet Star" [13]
IRC-10414 1,200 [14]
PZ Cassiopeiae 1,190 (–1,940) (or 1,260–1,340) The upper estimate is due to an unusual K band measurement and thought to be an artifact of a reddening correction error. The lower estimate is consistent with other stars in the same survey and with theoretical models. [15][8]
NML Cygni 1,183 NML Cyg is a semiregular variable star surrounded by a circumstellar nebula and is heavily obscured by dust extinction. [16]
EV Carinae 1,168 [17]
RT Carinae 1,090 [8]
V396 Centauri 1,070 [8]
HV 11423 1,060 (–1,220) [18]
CK Carinae 1,060 [8]
VV Cephei A 1,050 VV Cep A is a highly distorted star in a binary system, losing mass to its B-type companion VV Cephei B for at least part of its orbit. Analysis of the orbit and eclipses places a firm upper limit on the possible size at 1,900 solar radii. Older estimates have given much larger sizes. [19] [20] [foot 1]
V602 Carinae 1,050 [21]
KW Sagittarii 1,009 Margin of possible error : ± 142 solar radii. [2]
NR Vulpeculae 980 [8]
GCIRS 7 960 GCIRS 7 is marginally resolved at H-band. We detect a significant circumstellar contribution at K-band. The star and its environment are variable in size. Margin of possible error : ± 92 solar radii. [22]
BI Cygni 916 (–1,240) [8][11]
Betelgeuse 887 Alpha Orionis. Ninth brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 203 solar radii. [23]
Antares A 883 Alpha Scorpii A [24]
Theta Muscae 878
BC Cygni 856 (–1,553) [25]
U Lacertae 850
IX Carinae 790 [8]
S Persei 780 (–1,230) In the Perseus Double Cluster. [8]
SU Persei 780 In the Perseus Double Cluster [8]
V355 Cephei 770 [8]
T Cephei 742
RS Persei 740 (–800) In the Perseus Double Cluster. [8]
V382 Carinae 700 Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of star. [26]
CW Leonis 700 The largest carbon star existent in Milky Way [27]
The following well-known stars are listed for the purpose of comparison.
Star name Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Notes Ref.
V509 Cassiopeiae 650 Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
R Leporis 500 Hind's "Crimson Star". One of the largest carbon stars existent in the Milky Way.
Rho Cassiopeiae 450 A yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
Eta Carinae A 430 Tseen She. Previously thought to be the most massive single star, but in 2005 it was realized to be a binary system. Its size is poorly defined.
La Superba 390 Y Canum Venaticorum. Currently one of the coolest and reddest stars.
V838 Monocerotis 380 Once topped to the list as one of the largest stars, after experiencing a nova outburst it gradually decreased in size, which provided a radius of 1,570 ± 400 solar radii, confirming the earlier indirect calculations.
R Doradus 370 Star with the second largest apparent size after the Sun. Margin of possible error : ± 50 solar radii.
Mira A 332–402 Omicron Ceti. Prototype Mira variable.
The Pistol Star 306 Blue hypergiant, currently among the most massive and luminous stars.
Alpha Herculis 264–303 Ras Algethi.
S Doradus 240 Prototype S Doradus variable.
Deneb 220 Alpha Cygni. 19th brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 17 solar radii.
Peony Nebula Star 92 Candidate for most luminous star in the Milky Way.
Rigel A 78.9 Beta Orionis. Seventh brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 7.4 solar radii.
Canopus 71 Alpha Carinae. Second brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 7 solar radii.
Aldebaran 44.2 Alpha Tauri. [28]
R136a1 35.4 Also on the list as the most massive and luminous star.
HDE 226868 20–22 The supergiant companion of black hole Cygnus X-1. The black hole is 500,000 times smaller than the star.

See also


  1. ^ Size, mass and luminosity estimates of the VV Cephei system are all considerably uncertain due to insufficient knowledge: Professor Kaler writes "in truth we really do not know". Its distance cannot be measured from parallax, instead it is derived from its assumed membership in the Cepheus OB2 association, but this is also not certain. Other methods give a range of sizes between 1,000 and 2,200 that of the Sun, but these too are confounded by the fact that the star is not spherical, which leads to overestimates. (J. Kaler)


  1. ^ a b Levesque, E. M.; Massey, P.; Olsen, K. A. G.; Plez, B.; Meynet, G.; Maeder, A. (2006). "The Effective Temperatures and Physical Properties of Magellanic Cloud Red Supergiants: The Effects of Metallicity". The Astrophysical Journal. 645 (2): 1102. arXiv:astro-ph/0603596free to read. Bibcode:2006ApJ...645.1102L. doi:10.1086/504417. 
  2. ^ a b c Arroyo-Torres, B.; Wittkowski, M.; Marcaide, J. M.; Hauschildt, P. H. (2013). "The atmospheric structure and fundamental parameters of the red supergiants AH Scorpii, UY Scuti, and KW Sagittarii". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 554: A76. arXiv:1305.6179free to read. Bibcode:2013A&A...554A..76A. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201220920. 
  3. ^ Emily M. Levesque; Philip Massey; Bertrand Plez & Knut A. G. Olsen (June 2009). "The Physical Properties of the Red Supergiant WOH G64: The Largest Star Known?". Astronomical Journal. 137 (6): 4744. arXiv:0903.2260free to read. Bibcode:2009AJ....137.4744L. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/137/6/4744. 
  4. ^ Ohnaka, K.; Driebe, T.; Hofmann, K. H.; Weigelt, G.; Wittkowski, M. (2009). "Resolving the dusty torus and the mystery surrounding LMC red supergiant WOH G64". Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. 4: 454. Bibcode:2009IAUS..256..454O. doi:10.1017/S1743921308028858. 
  5. ^ Humphreys, R. M. (1978). "Studies of luminous stars in nearby galaxies. I. Supergiants and O stars in the Milky Way". The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 38: 309. Bibcode:1978ApJS...38..309H. doi:10.1086/190559. 
  6. ^ Davies, Ben; Kudritzki, Rolf-Peter; Figer, Donald F. (2010). "The potential of red supergiants as extragalactic abundance probes at low spectral resolution". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 407 (2): 1203. arXiv:1005.1008free to read. Bibcode:2010MNRAS.407.1203D. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16965.x. 
  7. ^ Wright, N. J.; Wesson, R.; Drew, J. E.; Barentsen, G.; Barlow, M. J.; Walsh, J. R.; Zijlstra, A.; Drake, J. J.; Eisloffel, J.; Farnhill, H. J. (16 October 2013). "The ionized nebula surrounding the red supergiant W26 in Westerlund 1". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 437 (1): L1–L5. arXiv:1309.4086free to read. Bibcode:2014MNRAS.437L...1W. doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slt127. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Levesque, E. M.; Massey, P.; Olsen, K. A. G.; Plez, B.; Josselin, E.; Maeder, A.; Meynet, G. (2005). "The Effective Temperature Scale of Galactic Red Supergiants: Cool, but Not as Cool as We Thought". The Astrophysical Journal. 628 (2): 973. arXiv:astro-ph/0504337free to read. Bibcode:2005ApJ...628..973L. doi:10.1086/430901. 
  9. ^ Wittkowski, M.; Hauschildt, P. H.; Arroyo-Torres, B.; Marcaide, J. M. (2012). "Fundamental properties and atmospheric structure of the red supergiant VY Canis Majoris based on VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometry". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 540: L12. arXiv:1203.5194free to read. Bibcode:2012A&A...540L..12W. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201219126. 
  10. ^ Choi, Yoon Kyung; Hirota, Tomoya; Honma, Mareki; Kobayashi, Hideyuki; Bushimata, Takeshi; Imai, Hiroshi; Iwadate, Kenzaburo; Jike, Takaaki; Kameno, Seiji; Kameya, Osamu; Kamohara, Ryuichi; Kan-Ya, Yukitoshi; Kawaguchi, Noriyuki; Kijima, Masachika; Kim, Mi Kyoung; Kuji, Seisuke; Kurayama, Tomoharu; Manabe, Seiji; Maruyama, Kenta; Matsui, Makoto; Matsumoto, Naoko; Miyaji, Takeshi; Nagayama, Takumi; Nakagawa, Akiharu; Nakamura, Kayoko; Oh, Chung Sik; Omodaka, Toshihiro; Oyama, Tomoaki; Sakai, Satoshi; et al. (2008). "Distance to VY CMa with VERA". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. Publications Astronomical Society of Japan. 60 (5): 1007. arXiv:0808.0641free to read. Bibcode:2008PASJ...60.1007C. doi:10.1093/pasj/60.5.1007. 
  11. ^ a b Mauron, N.; Josselin, E. (2011). "The mass-loss rates of red supergiants and the de Jager prescription". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 526: A156. arXiv:1010.5369free to read. Bibcode:2011A&A...526A.156M. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201013993. 
  12. ^ o. Chesneau; a. Meilland; e. Chapellier; f. Millour; a.m. Van Genderen; y. Naze; n. Smith; a. Spang; et al. (2014). "The yellow hypergiant HR 5171 A: Resolving a massive interacting binary in the common envelope phase". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 563: A71. arXiv:1401.2628free to read. Bibcode:2014A&A...563A..71C. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201322421. 
  13. ^ Josselin, E.; Plez, B. (2007). "Atmospheric dynamics and the mass loss process in red supergiant stars". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 469 (2): 671–680. arXiv:0705.0266free to read. Bibcode:2007A&A...469..671J. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066353. 
  14. ^ Gvaramadze, V. V.; Menten, K. M.; Kniazev, A. Y.; Langer, N.; MacKey, J.; Kraus, A.; Meyer, D. M.-A.; Kamiński, T. (2014). "IRC -10414: A bow-shock-producing red supergiant star". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 437: 843. arXiv:1310.2245free to read. Bibcode:2014MNRAS.437..843G. doi:10.1093/mnras/stt1943. 
  15. ^ Kusuno, K.; Asaki, Y.; Imai, H.; Oyama, T. (2013). "Distance and Proper Motion Measurement of the Red Supergiant, Pz Cas, in Very Long Baseline Interferometry H2O Maser Astrometry". The Astrophysical Journal. 774 (2): 107. arXiv:1308.3580free to read. Bibcode:2013ApJ...774..107K. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/774/2/107. 
  16. ^ De Beck, E.; Decin, L.; De Koter, A.; Justtanont, K.; Verhoelst, T.; Kemper, F.; Menten, K. M. (2010). "Probing the mass-loss history of AGB and red supergiant stars from CO rotational line profiles. II. CO line survey of evolved stars: Derivation of mass-loss rate formulae". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 523: A18. arXiv:1008.1083free to read. Bibcode:2010A&A...523A..18D. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200913771. 
  17. ^ Van Loon, J. Th.; Cioni, M.-R. L.; Zijlstra, A. A.; Loup, C. (2005). "An empirical formula for the mass-loss rates of dust-enshrouded red supergiants and oxygen-rich Asymptotic Giant Branch stars". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 438: 273. arXiv:astro-ph/0504379free to read. Bibcode:2005A&A...438..273V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20042555. 
  18. ^ Massey, Philip; Levesque, Emily M.; Olsen, K. A. G.; Plez, Bertrand; Skiff, B. A. (2007). "HV 11423: The Coolest Supergiant in the SMC". The Astrophysical Journal. 660: 301. arXiv:astro-ph/0701769free to read. Bibcode:2007ApJ...660..301M. doi:10.1086/513182. 
  19. ^ Bauer, W. H.; Gull, T. R.; Bennett, P. D. (2008). "Spatial Extension in the Ultraviolet Spectrum of Vv Cephei". The Astronomical Journal. 136 (3): 1312. Bibcode:2008AJ....136.1312H. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/136/3/1312. 
  20. ^ Professor James B. (Jim) Kaler. "VV CEP (VV Cephei)". University of Illinois. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
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  23. ^ Smith, Nathan; Hinkle, Kenneth H.; Ryde, Nils (March 2009). "Red Supergiants as Potential Type IIn Supernova Progenitors: Spatially Resolved 4.6 μm CO Emission Around VY CMa and Betelgeuse". The Astronomical Journal. 137 (3): 3558–3573. arXiv:0811.3037free to read. Bibcode:2009AJ....137.3558S. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/137/3/3558. 
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  28. ^ Richichi, A.; Roccatagliata, V. (2005). "Aldebaran's angular diameter: how well do we know it?". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 433: 305–312. arXiv:astro-ph/0502181free to read. Bibcode:2005A&A...433..305R. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20041765. 

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