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List of largest stars

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Not to be confused with List of most massive stars.

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).

Caveats

UY Scuti as seen in visible light.

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 50 of them are larger than the 700 R (490,000,000 km; 3.3 AU; 300,000,000 mi) cutoff point of this table, with the largest at 1,200–1,300.[1]

List

List of the largest stars
Star Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Notes Ref.
UY Scuti 1,708 Margin of error in size determination: ± 192 solar radii. At its smallest, its size would be similar to that of V354 Cephei (see below). [2]
WOH G64 1,635 This would be the largest star in the LMC, but is unusual in position and motion and might still be a foreground halo giant. Margin of possible error: ± 5% solar radii. [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 [8]
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 value in parentheses is consistent when taken using a higher luminosity value. [8]
VY Canis Majoris 1,420 Humphreys et al originally estimated the radius of VY CMa to be at 1,800–2,100 solar radii; a size so large that places it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory. The quoted size is based on an improved measurement by Wittowski et al 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]
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]
V766 Centauri A 1,315 Also known as HR 5171 A. V766 Centauri is a highly distorted star in a close binary system, losing mass to the secondary. According to Chesneau et al; it may be the largest star of its type (yellow hypergiant), but may be of early K-type class. Margin of possible error: ± 260 solar radii. [12]
SMC 18136 1,310 [1]
Mu Cephei 1,260 Also known as Herschel's "Garnet Star". [13]
XX Persei 1,250[citation needed] Near the bortder with Andromeda.
HV 11423 1,060–1,220 [14]
IRC-10414 1,200 IRC-10414 is a red supergiant companion to WR 114 (a Wolf-Rayet star). [15]
PZ Cassiopeiae 1,190–1,940 PZ Cas is located in a region with heavy dust extinction. 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. In another opinion (such as Kusuno and Oyama) say that the star has a radius around between 1,260–1,340 solar radii. [16][8]
NML Cygni 1,183 NML Cyg is a semiregular variable star surrounded by a circumstellar nebula and is heavily obscured by dust extinction. [17]
EV Carinae 1,168 [18]
RT Carinae 1,090 [8]
V396 Centauri 1,070 [8]
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 its orbit places a firm upper limit on the size at 1,900 solar radii. Older estimates have given much larger sizes. [19] [20] [foot 1]
V602 Carinae 1,050 [21]
V1749 Cygni 1,040 [8]
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]
U Lacertae 957[citation needed]
S Cassiopeiae 930 The largest S-type star existent in Milky Way.[citation needed] [23][24]
IX Carinae 920 [8]
BI Cygni 916–1,240 [8][25]
V366 Andromedae 913[citation needed]
Betelgeuse 887 Also known as Alpha Orionis. Ninth brightest star in the night sky. The angular diameter of Betelgeuse is only exceeded by R Doradus and the Sun. Margin of possible error : ± 203 solar radii. [26]
Antares A 883 [27]
BC Cygni 856–1,553 [28]
V384 Puppis 850 [8]
Theta Muscae Ac 804[citation needed] Although it is the lightest star in the Theta Muscae system, it is ironically the largest star.
BO 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]
S Cephei 760[citation needed] The largest carbon star star existent in Milky Way.[citation needed]
RS Persei 740–800 In the Perseus Double Cluster. [29]
V648 Cassiopeiae 710 [8]
V382 Carinae 700 Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of star. [30]
CW Leonis 700 [31]
V528 Carinae 700 [8]
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. [32]
Rho Cassiopeiae 450 Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star. [33]
Eta Carinae A 430 Also known as 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. [34]
R Leporis 400 Also known as Hind's "Crimson Star". One of the largest carbon stars existent in the Milky Way. Margin of possible error : ± 90 solar radii. [35]
La Superba 390 Also known as Y Canum Venaticorum. Currently one of the coolest and reddest stars. [36]
V838 Monocerotis 380 Once topped to the list as one of the largest stars. Lane et al originally estimated the radius of V838 Mon to be at 1,570 ± 400 solar radii. Margin of possible error : ± 90 solar radii. [37]
S Doradus 100–380 Prototype S Doradus variable. [38]
R Doradus 370 Star with the second largest apparent size after the Sun. Margin of possible error : ± 50 solar radii. [39]
Mira A 367 Also known as Omicron Ceti. Prototype Mira variable. [40]
The Pistol Star 306 Blue hypergiant, currently among the most massive and luminous stars. [41]
Alpha Herculis A 264–303 Also known as Ras Algethi. [42]
Deneb 220 Also known as Alpha Cygni. 19th brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 17 solar radii. [43]
Peony Nebula Star 92 Candidate for most luminous star in the Milky Way. [44]
Rigel 78.9 Also known as Beta Orionis. Seventh brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 7.4 solar radii. [45]
Canopus 71 Also known as Alpha Carinae. Second brightest star in the night sky. Margin of possible error : ± 7 solar radii. [46]
Aldebaran 44.2 Also known as Alpha Tauri. [47]
R136a1 35.4 Also on the list as the most massive and luminous star. [48]
HDE 226868 20–22 The supergiant companion of black hole Cygnus X-1. The black hole is 500,000 times smaller than the star. [49]

See also

Footnotes

  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)

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