Top 10 Largest Stars In The Universe.

Mankind keeps on searching through the universe, looking for both ordinary and extraordinary phenomena. We know about one septillion (1024) stars, enormous objects made of plasma, that is held together by its own gravity. Here are ten largest star ever discovered.

Also Read: Basics of Astrophysics Series

10. Pollux

Pollux is an orange-hued evolved giant star. It is located in the constellation of Gemini, 34 light years from Earth. It is orbited by a planet named Thestias- twice as big as Jupiter. It's radius is 8.8 times bigger than Sun’s, though it’s mass is shy of two times bigger than our star’s.

9. Arcturus

Ninth largest star in the universe is also a giant, though it is a red giant- a 7.1 billion year old star, that used up hydrogen and has moved to synthesis of heavier elements. It’s mass is only 1.08 times bigger than Suns, which means is lighter than Pollux, but it’s radius is 25.5 times larger. Arcturus is located in the constellation of Bootes and it is the fourth brightest star in the night sky (170 times more luminous than Sun)

8. Aldebaran

Our next position is also a red giant, it is also orbited by several planets similar to Jupiter. It can be spotted in the constellation of Taurus,. In 509 AD lunar occultation of this star was observed by Greeks. Aldebaran is located 65 light years from Earth. Aldebaran is 44.13 times larger than Sun, though its mass is similar to Arcturus’.

7. Rigel

The seventh one is Rigel- blue supergiant, located in the constellation of Orion, 860 light years from Earth, it is a part of stellar system consisting three more components. Rigel is 80 times larger than Sun, 21 times more massive and 61,500 to 363,000 as luminous as our star. The name Rigel came from Arabic, it refers to the foot of the Orion figure.

6. Antares

Antares is half as bright as Rigel, though it is just 550 light years away. It is a red giant- extremely large, but neither massive nor bright. It is approximately 700 times larger than Sun, but only 12 times more massive. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius, sometimes it is called “the heart of the Scorpion”.

5. Betelgeuse

Largest Stars In The Universe
Comparison of Betelgeuse and Sun with Aldebaran

Right before podium, there is Betelgeuse- second brightest star in the Orion (after Rigel), it is also a red giant. It will probably explode as a supernova in next million years, though now it’s radius is 877 times larger than Sun’s and it is 11 times more massive. Betelgeuse is a single isolated star, though there were two spectroscopic supergiants proposed as the companions.

4. Mu Cephei

Mu Cephei is located at the edge of the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula, in the constellation of Cepheus. It is 1000 times larger than Sun, 19 times more massive and a hundred thousand times brighter. When Mu Cephei collapses and explodes as a supernova, its remains may be a black hole and this star is nearing is death, fusing helium into carbon.

3. VV Cephei

The top three is opened by an eclipsing binary star, 1400 times larger, 10 times more massive and 200 thousand times brighter than Sun.  It is located in the constellation of Cepheus, 5000 light years from Earth . VV Cephei is a shell star, which means its spectrum shows extremely broad absorption lines, it is also a B[e] type star, which means that it has forbidden neutral and low ionisation emission lines in its spectrum.

2. VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris vs Sun

This is an extreme oxygen hypergiant. It also holds the title of the most luminous in the Milky Way and one of the most massive red giants known. The radius is about 1420 times larger than Sun’s and it is 17 times more massive. In 2009 study of Nathan Smith from University of California confirmed that both Betelgeuse and VY Canis Majoris can explode as supernovas any time, though some argue that it will happen no sooner than in 100,000 years.

1. UY Scuti

And finally, the largest star in the universe discovered so far is UY Scuti. It was first discovered in the 19th century by a team of German astronomers at the Bonn Observatory, Germany. At that time the star was named BD -12 5055. Located in the constellation of Scutum, it’s currently the largest star known to us. According to estimations, UY Scuti has a radius of 1,708 solar radius and thus 5 billion times bigger than the Sun. Just for the sake of simplicity, based on the above numbers if this supergiant is somehow placed at the center of our solar system, then its outer atmosphere would most probably engulf the orbit of Saturn. The current stellar model suggests that it will explode to form a supernova before evolving into a yellow giant or a Wolf-Rayet star.

Note: There are many other candidates that are believed to be bigger than the stars listed here. But the data of those stars is highly uncertain and needs more research.

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