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List of largest stars

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Below is an ordered list of the largest stars currently known 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 very incomplete, as great uncertainties currently remain, especially when deriving various important 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 and Aldebaran. Examples of eclipsing binaries include Epsilon Aurigae, VV Cephei, HR 5171, and the red-giant binary system KIC 9246715 in the constellation of Cygnus.[1]

Caveats

UY Scuti as seen in visible light.

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 that 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 only approximated using Stefan–Boltzmann law for the deduced stellar luminosity and effective surface temperature;
  • Stellar distances, and their errors, for most, 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;
  • Based on various theoretical evolutionary models, few stars will exceed 1,500–2,000 times the Sun (roughly 3,715 K and Mbol = −9). Such limits maybe also depend on the stellar metallicity.[2]

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:

List

List of the largest stars
Star name Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Method[a] Notes
Orbit of Saturn 1,940–2,169 Reported for reference
UY Scuti 1,708 ± 192[4] AD Margin of error in size determination: ±192 solar radii. At the smallest, it would have a size similar to VX Sagittarii (see below)
WOH G64 1,540[5]–1,730[6] L/Teff This would be the largest star in the LMC, but is unusual in position and motion and might still be a foreground halo giant.
RW Cephei 1,535[7][8] L/Teff 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.
Westerlund 1-26 1,530-1,580[9] (–2,550) [10] L/Teff Very uncertain parameters for an unusual star with strong radio emission. The spectrum is variable but apparently the luminosity is not.
KY Cygni 1,420–2,850 [2] L/Teff The upper estimate is due to an unusual K band measurement and thought to be an artifact of a reddening correction error, and is thought to be against stellar evolutionary theory. The lower estimate is consistent with other stars in the same survey and with theoretical models.
VY Canis Majoris 1,420 ± 120[11] AD Humphreys et al previously estimated the radius of VY CMa to be 1,800 R to 2,200 R; a size so large that places it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory.[12] Improved measurements have brought it down to size.[11][13] This star is a red hypergiant, although Massey et al. considered it as a normal red supergiant with a radius of only 600 R.[14]
AH Scorpii 1,411 ± 124[4] AD 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.
VV Cephei A 1,400,[15] 1,050[16]–1,900[2] 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. Other estimates give a range from 1,200 R to 1,600 R.[2][17]
RSGC1-F02 1,398[18] L/Teff
RSGC1-F01 1,335[18] L/Teff
HR 5171 A 1,315 ± 260,[19] 1,575 ± 400[20] AD HR 5171 A is a highly distorted star in a close binary system, losing mass to the secondary, and is also variable in temperature, thus probably also in diameter. Traditionally, it is considered as the largest known yellow hypergiant, although the latest research suggests it is a red supergiant with a radius 1,490 ± 540 R.[21]
SMC 18136 1,310[3] This would be the largest star in the SMC.
PZ Cassiopeiae 1,260-1,340,[22] 1,190-1,940[2] L/Teff The largest estimate is due to an unusual K band measurement and thought to be an artifact of a reddening correction error. The lowest estimate is consistent with other stars in the same survey and with theoretical models, and the intermediate ones have been obtained refining the distance to this star, and thus its parameters.
Mu Cephei (Herschel's "Garnet Star") 1,260[23] Reddest star in the night sky.[24] Other recent estimates range from 650 R[25] to 1,420 R[2]
LMC 136042 1,240[3]
BI Cygni 1,240[2] L/Teff
Westerlund 1-237 1,233[10] L/Teff Calculated from an effective temperature of 3,600 K and a luminosity of 230,000 L.[10]
SMC 5092 1,220[3]
S Persei 1,212 ± 124[26] AD & L/Teff A red hypergiant localed in the Perseus Double Cluster. A large radius of 1,230 R is due to an unusual K band measurement and thought to be an artifact of a reddening correction error. A small radius of 780 R is consistent with other stars in the same survey and with theoretical models.[2]
LMC 175464 1,200[3]
LMC 135720 1,200[3]
RAFGL 2139 1,200[27] RAFGL 2139 is a rare red supergiant companion to WR 114 that has a bow shock.
SMC 69886 1,190[3]
NML Cygni 1,183[28] L/Teff
RSGC1-F05 1,177[18] L/Teff
EV Carinae 1,168[29]-2,880[30] L/Teff
RSGC1-F03 1,168[18] L/Teff
LMC 119219 1,150[3]
RSGC1-F08 1,146[18] L/Teff
BC Cygni 1,140[2]-1,230[23] L/Teff Other recent estimates range from 856 R to 1,553 R.[31]
SMC 10889 1,130[3]
VX Sagittarii 1,120 - 1,550[32] L/Teff VX Sgr is a pulsating variable calculated to vary in size from 1,350 R to 1,940 R.[33]
LMC 141430 1,110[3]
LMC 175746 1,100[3]
RSGC1-F13 1,098[18] L/Teff
RT Carinae 1,090[2] L/Teff
RSGC1-F04 1,082[18] L/Teff
LMC 174714 1,080[3]
LMC 68125 1,080[3]
SMC 49478 1,080[3]
SMC 20133 1,080[3]
V396 Centauri 1,070[2] L/Teff
SMC 8930 1,070[3]
Orbit of Jupiter 1,064–1,173 Reported for reference
HV 11423 1,060–1,220[34] L/Teff HV 11423 is variable in spectral type (observed from K0 to M5), thus probably also in diameter. In October 1978, it was a star of M0I type.
CK Carinae 1,060[2] L/Teff
SMC 25879 1,060[3]
LMC 142202 1,050[3]
LMC 146126 1,050[3]
LMC 67982 1,040[3]
U Lacertae 1,022[35] L/Teff
RSGC1-F11 1,015[18] L/Teff
LMC 143877 1,010[3]
KW Sagittarii 1,009[4]-1,460[2] AD & L/Teff Margin of possible error: ± 142 solar radii (Torres 2013).
SMC 46497 990[3]
LMC 140296 990[3]
RSGC1-F09 986[18] L/Teff
NR Vulpeculae 980[2] L/Teff
SMC 12322 980[3]
LMC 177997 980[3]
SMC 59803 970[3]
GCIRS 7 960 ± 92[36] AD
Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) 955 ± 217[37] AD Other recent estimates range from 887 ± 203 R[38] to 1,180 R[39]
SMC 50840 950[3]
RSGC1-F10 931[18] L/Teff
S Cassiopeiae 930[40][41]
IX Carinae 920[2] L/Teff
HV 2112 916[42] L/Teff Most likely candidate for a Thorne-Zytkow Object.
RSGC1-F07 910[18] L/Teff
LMC 54365 900[3]
NSV 25875 891[28] L/Teff
LMC 109106 890[3]
RSGC1-F06 885[18] L/Teff
LMC 116895 880[3]
SMC 30616 880[3]
LMC 64048 880[3]
V437 Scuti 874[28] L/Teff
V602 Carinae 860[2]-1,050[43] L/Teff & AD Margin of possible error: ± 165 solar radii (Torres 2015).
V669 Cassiopeiae 859[28] L/Teff
SMC 55681 850[3]
SMC 15510 850[3]
LMC 61753 830[3]
LMC 62090 830[3]
SMC 11709 830[3]
V1185 Scorpii 830[28] L/Teff
Outer limits of the asteroid belt 816 Reported for reference
LMC 142199 810[3]
LMC 134383 800[3]
BO Carinae 790[2] L/Teff
LMC 142907 790[3]
SU Persei 780[2] L/Teff In the Perseus Double Cluster
RS Persei 770[44]-1,000[2] AD & L/Teff In the Perseus Double Cluster. Margin of possible error: ± 30 solar radii (Baron 2014).
AV Persei 770[2] L/Teff In the Perseus Double Cluster
V355 Cepheus 770[2] L/Teff
V915 Scorpii 760[45] L/Teff
S Cephei 760[46]
SMC 11939 750[3]
HD 303250 750[2]
V382 Carinae 747[47] The brightest yellow hypergiant in the night sky, one of the rarest types of star. Achmad (1992) calculates 600 R to 1,100 R or 700 ± 250 R.[48]
RU Virginis 742[46]
LMC 137818 740[3]
SMC 48122 740[3]
SMC 56732 730[3]
V648 Cassiopeiae 710[2] L/Teff
XX Persei 710[49] L/Teff Located in the Perseus Double Cluster and near the border with Andromeda.
TV Geminorum 620-710[50] (–770)[2] L/Teff
HD 179821 704[51] A yellow hypergiant, although most authors consider it as a supergiant, a protoplanetary nebula or a post-AGB star with a luminosity of only 16,000 L.
LMC 169754 700[3]
LMC 65558 700[3]
V528 Carinae 700[2] L/Teff
The following well-known stars are listed for the purpose of comparison.
V354 Cephei 690[35]-1,520[2] L/Teff
Antares A (Alpha Scorpii A) 680[52] AD This star appears to vary its size by 165 R. Older estimates have given radii over 800 R,[53][54] but some are likely to have been affected by asymmetry of the atmosphere and the narrow range of infrared wavelengths observed.[52] Other recent estimates range from 653 R[55] to 1,246 R.[56]
CE Tauri 587–593[57] (–608[58]) Second reddest star in the night sky.[24] Can be occulted by the Moon, allowing accurate determination of its apparent diameter.
R Leporis (Hind's "Crimson Star") 400[59]–535[60] Margin of possible error: ± 90 solar radii.
Rho Cassiopeiae 400-500[61] Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
Inner limits of the asteroid belt 412 Reported for reference
Mira A (Omicron Ceti) 332–402[62] Prototype Mira variable. De beck (2005) calculates 541 R.[28]
V509 Cassiopeiae 400–900[63] Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
CW Leonis 390–500,[64] 700[65]–826[28] L/Teff CW Leonis is one of the mistaken identities as the claimed planet "Nibiru" or "Planet X", due to its brightness as it approaches 1st magnitude.
V838 Monocerotis 380 (in 2009)[66] A short time after the outburst V838 Mon was measured at 1,570 ± 400 R.[67] However the distance to this "L supergiant", and hence its size, have since been reduced and it proved to be a transient object that shrunk about four-fold over a few years.
S Doradus 100-380[68] Prototype S Doradus variable
R Doradus 370 ± 50[69] Star with the second largest apparent size after the Sun.
IRC +10420 357[70]–1,342[28] L/Teff A yellow hypergiant that has increased its temperature into the LBV range.
The Pistol Star 340[71] Blue hypergiant, among the most massive and luminous stars known.
La Superba (Y Canum Venaticorum) 307[28]-390[72] L/Teff Referred to as La Superba by Angelo Secchi. Currently one of the coolest and reddest stars.
Solar System Habitable Zone 305 Reported for reference
Orbit of Mars 297–358 Reported for reference
Alpha Herculis (Ras Algethi) 284 ± 60[73] Moravveji et al also gives a range from 264 R to 303 R. At an estimated distance of 110 parsecs from the Sun, this corresponds to a radius of 400 ± 61 R.[73]
Sun's red giant phase 256[74] The core hydrogen would be exhausted in 5.4 billion years. In 7.647 billion years, The Sun would reach the tip of the red-giant branch of the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. (see below)
Reported for reference
Eta Carinae A (Tseen She) 250,[75] 60–800[76] Previously thought to be the most massive single star, but in 2005 it was realized to be a binary system. Other estimates gives 85 R to 195 R.[77]
Orbit of Earth 211–219 Reported for reference
Deneb (Alpha Cygni) 203 ± 17[78]
LBV 1806-20 200[79] Formerly a candidate for the most luminous star in the Milky Way.
Orbit of Venus 154–157 Reported for reference
Epsilon Aurigae A (Almaaz) 143-358[80] ε Aur was incorrectly hailed as the largest star with a radius 2,000 R or 3,000 R,[81] even though it later turned out not to be an infrared light star but rather a dusk torus surrounding the system.
Peony Nebula Star 92[82] Candidate for most luminous star in the Milky Way.
Rigel A (Beta Orionis A) 78.9[83]–115[84] Margin of possible error: ±7.4 solar radii.
Canopus (Alpha Carinae) 71 ± 4[85] Second brightest star in the night sky.
Orbit of Mercury 66–100 Reported for reference
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 44.13 ± 0.84[86]
Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris) 37.5[87] The current northern pole star.
R136a1 35.4[88] Also on record as the most massive and luminous star known.
Arcturus (Alpha Boötis) 25.4 ± 0.2[89] Brightest star in the northern hemisphere.
HDE 226868 20-22[90] The supergiant companion of black hole Cygnus X-1. The black hole is 500,000 times smaller than the star.
VV Cephei B 13[17]-25[91] The B-type main sequence companion of VV Cephei A.
Sun's helium burning phase 10 After the red-giant branch the Sun has approximately 120 million years of active life left.
Reported for reference
Sun 1 The largest object in the Solar System.
Reported for reference
  1. ^ AD: radius determined from angular diameter and distance
    L/Teff: radius calculated from bolometric luminosity and effective temperature

See also

References

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