The Rookie Blogger

January 2, 2011

Largest Known Star - VY Canis Majoris

Ever since I was a young student, I am so fascinated with stars in the universe because of their sheer size and power. My vision of star exceeds that of our own sun. I always look further using my naked eye for some stars in a clear night. During my elementary years, the information I had about stars are limited; red giant stars like Betelgeuse and Antares, some orange giants, and the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. I was always told by my science teachers that the largest stars are those classified as red giant stars. Well, by the name itself, red giants are really giant stars that are mostly 0.5 to 10 solar masses (0.5 to 10 times heavier than our sun) and the sizes of these kinds of star vary.

VY Canis Majoris compared to our sun. (Image from Wikipedia)

I was curious about stars that are very large that’s why I Googled for some answers. I was shocked while I was reading about a star with a catalog name of Mu Cephei which is classified as a red super giant. I didn’t know there was even a classification of a red super giant; I thought red giant is the largest kind of star. I kept on searching about stars that are red giants on steroids, and then I read about the VY Canis Majoris which is classified as a red hypergiant and is located in the constellation Canis Majoris. This star was first catalogued during 1801 but its absolute size was only discovered recently with the advent of space telescopes. Its size ranges from 1800 to 2100 solar radii, the largest and the most luminous of its kind and is 4,900 light years away from us.

There are googol^googolple (googol, 1 followed by one hundred zeros, googolplex is 10^googol) stars out there or maybe more and I think the stars we know today are just nothing compared to other undiscovered stars in the universe. Maybe in three years time, astronomers will be able to find a much larger star or maybe a star system that has an earth-like planet thriving.

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About The Rookie Blogger

This is a personal blog of James Arnold. This blog contains posts about travel, technology, dining, and many more. James is also a freelance photographer that caters events such as weddings, debuts, birthdays, and even personal photoshoots. You can contact him through +63 916 659 7001 if you have any questions or plans to advertise on this blog.