List of largest stars

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Size comparison of 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; 432,287.938 mi).

Additional methods[change | change source]

A few stars are in the Zodiac, and the Moon sometimes passes in front of them. This allows calculating their size by their angular size and distance. This is not very reliable. Most do not, so astronomers calculate their size by their spectral type (which gives their luminosity), distance, and brightness. This is even less reliable.

Caveats[change | change source]

These objects are extremely big, thousand to millions of times the volume of our Sun, and extremely luminous. These stars also have extended atmospheres and photospheres, and are often shrouded in dust. This makes their true size uncertain. Many of these stars vary in size and brightness (like Betelguese, Antares, Mu Cephei and VY Canis Majoris). Furthermore, galaxies have different properties that affect how large their stars can be. This is why there are separate lists for galaxies.

These objects are also far away, sometimes intergalactic (eg: WOH G64 is in the Large Magellanic Cloud). This makes it even harder to calculate their sizes. Most stars found will not be above 1,500 times the Sun's radius. Their mass would hardly hold together, and a lot of material would be ejected by powerful solar winds, forming the nebulae we see around them.

Astrophysicist Robert F. Wing did an in-depth look on the largest stars, recognising Antares, Betelgeuse, Mu Cephei, and VV Cephei A as well-accepted largest stars, while also looking at other stars known for cool temperatures and high brightness like VY Canis Majoris and NML Cygni. The Stefan–Boltzmann law says these stars would have a large size.[1]

While red supergiants and hypergiants are usually the largest stars, some stars can increase their size for a short time before shrinking again. This process is called an eruption.[2] Some eruptions, like those of Eta Carinae and V838 Monocerotis, made them much larger than the largest stars for a short time. These are listed separately.

List[change | change source]

Milky Way[change | change source]

List of the largest stars in the Milky Way Galaxy
Star name Solar radii
(Sun = 1)
Method[a] Notes
Orbit of Saturn 1,940-2,169 Reported for reference
The sizes above may not be correct because theories say stars cannot be larger than approximately 1,500 R[3]
Maximum star size (Milky Way)[3] ~1,500 Not an exact number. It is thought stars cannot get much larger than this, based on current theories, or they would be unstable.[3]
RSGC1-F01 1,435[4]-1,551[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
VY Canis Majoris 1,420[6] AD VY CMa is possibly the largest star in the Milky Way although galactic red supergiants above are possibly larger but they have less accurate radius estimates.[7] Older estimates originally estimated the radius of VY CMa to be above 3,000 R,[8] or as little as 600 R.[9] The 1,420 R measure has a margin of error of ±120 R.[6]
KY Cygni 1,420[3] L/Teff
CM Velorum 1,416[10]
AH Scorpii 1,411[11] AD AH Sco is a 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.
HR 5171 Aa 1,315 ± 260[12] AD HR 5171 A is a highly distorted star in a close binary system, losing mass to the secondary. It is also variable in temperature, thus probably also in diameter. Other estimates range from 1,060-1,160 solar radii[13] to 1,490 ± 540 solar radii.
SW Cephei 1,298[14] AD
RW Cygni 1,273[14] AD
Mu Cephei (Herschel's "Garnet Star") 1,259[15]-1,420[3] Widely known as one of the largest known stars.[1]
Westerlund 1-237 1,245[5] L/Teff Red supergiant within the Westerlund 1 super star cluster.
IRC -10414 1,200[16] L/Teff IRC -10414 is a rare red supergiant companion to WR 114 that has a bow shock.
HD 90587 1,181[14] AD
RSGC1-F03 1,168[4]-1,326[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
EV Carinae 1,168[17] L/Teff Older estimates based on much larger distances have given higher luminosities, and consequently larger radii.[18][19]
Westerlund 1-26 1,165 or 1,221[20] L/Teff Very uncertain parameters for an unusual star with strong radio emission. The spectrum is variable but apparently the luminosity is not.
HD 143183 (V558 Normae) 1,147[21] AD
V602 Carinae 1,142[14] AD
MY Cephei 1,135[22] L/Teff Not to be confused with Mu Cephei (see above). Older estimates have given up to 2,440 R based on much cooler temperatures.[23]
RSGC1-F02 1,128[24]-1,549[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
VX Sagittarii 1,120-1,550[25] L/Teff VX Sgr is a pulsating variable with a large visual range and is calculated to vary in size from 1,350 R to 1,940 R.[26] Widely known as one of the largest known stars.[1][26]
S Persei 1,109[5] L/Teff A red supergiant located in the Perseus Double Cluster. Levsque et al. 2005 calculated radii of 780 R and 1,230 R based on K-band measurements.[3] Older estimates gave up to 2,853 R based on higher luminosities.[19]
RSGC1-F08 1,088[5]-1,146[4] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
R Fornacis 1,078[27] L/Teff
Trumpler 27-1 1,073[28] L/Teff
Orbit of Jupiter 1,064-1,173 Reported for reference
PZ Cassiopeiae 1,062[28]-1,364[29] L/Teff
VV Cephei A 1,050[30] EB 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. Data from the most recent eclipse has cast additional doubt on the accepted model of the system. Older, disproven estimates give up to 1,800 solar radii. Widely known as one of the largest known stars.[1]
SU Persei 1,039[14] AD In the Perseus Double Cluster
RW Leonis Minoris 1,028[31] L/Teff Also called CIT (California Institute of Technology) 6.
RSGC1-F12 1,005[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
Red giant phase of Van Maanen 2 1,000[32] Evolutionary models van Maanen 2 is now one of the closest stars to the Sun, and the closest single white dwarf.
RT Carinae 995[14] AD
RSGC1-F13 993[5]-1,098[4] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
NO Aurigae 991[14] AD
RSGC1-F09 986[4]-1,231[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
NR Vulpeculae 980[3] L/Teff
Westerlund 1-20 965[5] L/Teff Red supergiant within the Westerlund 1 super star cluster.
V396 Centauri 965[14] AD
GCIRS 7 960[33]-1,368[34] AD Located at the galactic center. Margin of possible error: ±92 R[33] or ±150 R.[35]
RSGC1-F11 955[5]-1,015[4] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
RSGC1-F10 931[4]-954[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
RSGC1-F04 914[5]-1,082[4] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
CK Carinae 909[14]-1,060[3] AD & L/Teff
RSGC1-F06 885[4]-967[5] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
AZ Cygni 861[14] AD
BI Cygni 850[36]-1,240[3] L/Teff
KW Sagittarii 850[14] AD Older estimates have given larger radii and consequently cooler temperatures.[3]
6 Geminorum (BU Geminorum) 787[14] AD
U Lacertae 785[28] L/Teff
RS Persei 770[37]-831[22] AD & L/Teff In the Perseus Double Cluster. Margin of possible error: ±30 R.[37]
V915 Scorpii 760[38][39] L/Teff
S Cephei 760[40] AD
Psi1 Aurigae 753[14] AD A red supergiant similar to Antares and Betelgeuse (see below), but much further away.
Outer limits of the asteroid belt 750-900 Reported for reference
RSGC1-F07 718[5]-910[4] L/Teff Located in the massive open cluster RSGC1.
XX Persei 710[5] L/Teff Located in the Perseus Double Cluster and near the border with Andromeda.
V648 Cassiopeiae 710[3] L/Teff
Stephenson 2-04 710[5] L/Teff
HD 179821 704[41] DSKE HD 179821 may be a yellow hypergiant or a much less luminous star.
V528 Carinae 700[3] L/Teff
The following notable stars with sizes below 700 solar radii are kept here for comparison
Antares (Alpha Scorpii A) 680[42] (varies by 19%)[43] AD Antares was once thought to be over 850 R,[44][45] but those estimates are likely to have been affected by asymmetry of the atmosphere of the star. Widely known as one of the largest known stars.[1]
Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) ~640[46]-697[14] AD Star with the third largest apparent size after R Doradus and the Sun. Another estimate gives 955±217 R[47] This estimate might not be reliable due to problems with measuring red supergiants in this way, but is consistent with other size estimates. Betelgeuse is a variable star so it changes size often. Widely known as one of the largest known stars.[1]
Rho Cassiopeiae 636-981[48] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
V509 Cassiopeiae (HR 8752) 590[14] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
CE Tauri 587-593[49] (-608[50]) AD Can be occulted by the Moon, allowing accurate determination of its apparent diameter.
V382 Carinae 471[14] AD Yellow hypergiant, one of the rarest types of a star.
V838 Monocerotis 467[51] L/Teff A short time after the outburst V838 Mon was measured at 1,570 ± 400 R,[52] but its distance, 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. Like CW Leo, it has been erroneously portrayed as "Nibiru" or "Planet X" (see below).
The Pistol Star 420[53] AD Blue hypergiant, among the most massive and luminous stars known.
Inner limits of the asteroid belt 380 Reported for reference
Mira A (Omicron Ceti) 332-402[54] AD Prototype Mira variable. De beck et al. 2010 calculates 541 R.[55]
R Doradus 298[56] AD Star with the second largest apparent size after the Sun.
Orbit of Mars 297-358 Reported for reference
La Superba (Y Canum Venaticorum) 289[14] AD Referred to as La Superba by Angelo Secchi. Currently one of the coolest and reddest stars.
Sun's red giant phase (asymptotic giant branch) 256[57] At this point, the Sun will engulf Mercury and Venus, and possibly the Earth although it will move away from its orbit since the Sun will lose a third of its mass. During the helium burning phase, it will shrink to 10 R but will later grow again and become an unstable AGB star, and then a white dwarf after making a planetary nebula.[58][59] Reported for reference
Eta Carinae A ~240[60] Previously thought to be the most massive single star, but in 2005 it was realized to be a binary system. η Car lacks a good surface as the wind from it is so thick. It has a "core" with a radius of 60 R and the edge of the wind has a radius of 881 R.[61]
Orbit of Earth 215 (211-219) Reported for reference
Solar System Habitable Zone 200-520[62] (uncertain) Reported for reference
Orbit of Venus 154-157 Reported for reference
Epsilon Aurigae A (Almaaz) 143-358[63] AD ε Aur was incorrectly claimed in 1970 as the largest star with a size between 2,000 R and 3,000 R,[64] even though it later turned out not to be an "infrared light star" but rather a dusk torus surrounding the system.
Deneb (Alpha Cygni) 99.84[14]–203[65] AD Prototype Alpha Cygni variable.
Peony Star 92[66] AD Candidate for most luminous star in the Milky Way.
Rigel 78.9 Brightest star in Orion.
Canopus (Alpha Carinae) 71 AD Second brightest star in the night sky.
Orbit of Mercury 66-100 Reported for reference
LBV 1806-20 46-145 L/Teff Formerly a candidate for the most luminous star in the Milky Way with 40 million L,[67] but the luminosity has been revised later only 2 million L.[68][69]
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 43.06[14] AD Close red giant star.
Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris) 37.5[70] AD The current northern pole star and a well-known Cepheid variable.
Arcturus (Alpha Boötis) 24.25[14] AD Brightest star in the northern hemisphere, and a K-type red giant.
HDE 226868 20-22[71] The supergiant companion of black hole Cygnus X-1. The black hole is around 500,000 times smaller than the star.
VV Cephei B 13[72]–25[73] The blue main-sequence star companion of VV Cephei A.
Pollux (Beta Geminorum) 9.06 ± 0.03 [74] The nearest giant star to Earth.
Regulus (Alpha Leonis) 4.35 ± 0.1[74] The nearest B-type star to Earth.
Vega (Alpha Lyrae) 2.726±0.006 × 2.418±0.012[75] One of the brightest stars in the night sky.
Sirius A (Alpha Canis Majoris A) 1.711[76] The brightest star in the night sky.
Alpha Centauri A 1.2175[77] Nearest G-type yellow dwarf to the Sun.
Sun 1 The largest object in the Solar System.
Reported for reference

Magellanic Clouds[change | change source]

Star name Solar radii

(Sun = 1)

Method Notes
WOH G64 1,540[78] L/Teff Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud and likely the largest known star.[79][80]
WOH S281 1,376[81] L/Teff
HV 888 (WOH S140) 1,353[82]-1,974[81] L/Teff Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
HV 11423 1,086[81] L/Teff Located in the Small Magellanic Cloud. 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.
SMC 018136 945[83] L/Teff
The following notable stars with sizes below 700 solar radii are kept here for comparison
HV 2112 675-1,193[84] L/Teff Once thought to be a possible Thorne–Żytkow object, or a red supergiant with a neutron star core.
HD 33579 471[85] L/Teff The brightest star in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
S Doradus 100-380[86] L/Teff A notable blue hypergiant among the most luminous stars known.
HD 37974 99[87] L/Teff A blue hypergiant with a dusty disk.
R136a1 28.8[88]-35.4[89] AD One of the most massive and luminous stars known (196 M and around 5 million L).
BAT99-98 37.5[90] L/Teff One of the most massive and luminous stars known.
HD 5980 A 24[91] L/Teff One of the most massive and luminous stars known.

Outside the Local Group[change | change source]

Star name Solar radii

(Sun = 1)

Galaxy Method Notes
Quyllur 965[92] L/Teff Distant red supergiant that the James Webb Space Telescope saw.
Godzilla 430-2,365[93] Sunburst Galaxy The most luminous star ever known, at up to 255 million times brighter than the Sun.
Mothra 271[94] A binary star.
NGC 2363-V1 194-356[95] NGC 2366 L/Teff

Eruptions (temporary sizes)[change | change source]

Star name Solar radii

(Sun = 1)

Year Galaxy Method Notes
AT 2017jfs 33,000[96] 2017 NGC 4470 L/Teff
SNhunt151 16,700[97] 2014 UGC 3165 L/Teff
Orbit of Neptune ~6,500[98] Reported for reference
M51 OT2019-1 5,486[99] 2019 Whirlpool Galaxy L/Teff
Eta Carinae 4,319-6,032[100] 1845 Milky Way L/Teff During this time, it became the second-brightest star in the night sky.
Orbit of Uranus 4,121.7-4,126.3 Reported for reference
V838 Monocerotis 3,190[101] 2002 Milky Way L/Teff
PHL 293B's luminous blue variable 1,348–1,463[102] 2002 PHL 293B L/Teff This star, a blue supergiant, may not exist anymore.
R71 500[103] 2012 Large Magellanic Cloud L/Teff
Godzilla 430-2,365[93] 2015 Sunburst Galaxy L/Teff
  1. Methods for calculating the radius:
    • AD: radius determined from angular diameter and distance
    • L/Teff: radius calculated from bolometric luminosity and effective temperature
    • DSKE: radius calculated using the disk emission
    • EB: radius determined from observations of the eclipsing binary

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