Thursday, November 8, 2012

10 Largest Known Stars Of The Universe

By Sameed Khan

The study of the vast and enigmatic universe, the phenomena at work within it and the unfathomably large heavenly bodies that it encompasses makes one feel so tiny, so insignificant. We are mere specks compared to the size of our planet which is only a fraction of the size of the Sun. But there are stars out there that make even our Sun look like an insignificant fleck. So here we have compiled a list of some of the largest known stars of the universe. The size of each star has been mentioned in solar radii, where one solar radius (1 R) is equal to the radius of the Sun.

VY Canis Majoris
Part of the Canis Major constellation, this hypergiant star (one with great mass and luminosity) is the largest known star yet, with a radius between 1,800-2,100 solar radii (2.7 billion kilometers approximately), which means it can encompass 900-1,050 Suns in a straight line from center to circumference! It is situated 4,900 light years from the Earth.

VV Cephei A
This red hypergiant is the primary star of the VV Cephei eclipsing binary star system (a pair of stars orbiting around their mean center of mass, where the plane of orbit coincides with the line of sight of the observer), located in the constellation Cepheus 2,400 light years away from the Earth and has a radius of 1,600-1,900 solar radii.

V838 Monocerotis
Located in the constellation Monoceros 20,000 light years away from our Sun, this red variable star has a radius of 1,570 ± 400 solar radii – nearly equal to Jupiter’s orbital radius.

WOH G64 is a red supergiant located in the LMC (Large Magellanic Cloud) galaxy roughly 160,000 light years away from the Milky Way. It has a radius approximately 1,540 times that of the Sun.

V354 Cephei
The pulsating/irregular variable star, V354 Cephei, is a red supergiant with a radius of 1,520 solar radii. It is situated around 9,000 light years away from the Sun in the Cepheus constellation of the Milky Way.

RW Cephei
Another irregular variable star from the Cepheus constellation, RW Cephei has a radius between 1,260 and 1,610 solar radii. It is located at a distance of 11,500 light years away from the Sun.

KW Sagitarii
KW Sagitarii is located 10,000 light years away from the Sun in the Sagittarius constellation and has a radius equal to 1,460 solar radii. The supergiant is as bright as 360,000 Suns!

KY Cygni
This red supergiant has an estimated radius between 1,420 and 2,850 solar radii. It is located 5,000 light years away from our Sun in the Cygnus constellation.

Mu Cephei (μ Cephei)
At 1,420 solar radii, the red supergiant Mu Cephei or Herchel’s Garnet Star is one of largest stars visible to the naked eye. It is located in the Cephius constellation in the Milky Way.

This semiregular variable star, in addition to being one of the largest known stars, is the brightest one in the Orion constellation. The red supergiant has a radius equal to that of 950-1000 Suns and is located 643 ± 146 light years away.

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