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06-21-2010, 03:00 PM #1
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- Jan 2010
Largest Star Ever Known in the UniverseLargest Star Ever Known in the Universe
VY Canis Majoris (VY CMa) is a red hypergiant star located in the constellation Canis Major. With a size of 2600 solar radii, it is the largest known star and also one of the most luminous known. It is located about 1.5 kiloparsecs (4.6×1016 km) or about 4,900 light years away from Earth. Unlike most stars, which occur in either binary or multiple star systems, VY CMa is a single star (i.e. does not have any stellar companions). It is categorized as a semiregular variable and has an estimated period of 6,275,081 days, or just under 17,200 years.
VY canis majoris compare to Sun
The first known record of VY Canis Majoris is in the star catalogue of Jérôme Lalande, on March 7, 1801. The catalogue listed VY CMa as a 7th magnitude star. Further studies on its apparent magnitude during the 19th century showed that the star has been fading since 1850.
Since 1847, VY CMa has been known to be a red star.During the 19th century, observers measured at least six discrete components to VY CMa, suggesting the possibility that it is a multiple star. These discrete components are now known to be bright areas in the surrounding nebula. Visual observations in 1957 and high-resolution imaging in 1998 showed that VY CMa does not have a companion star.
VY CMa is a high-luminosity M star with an effective temperature of about 3,000 K, placing it at the upper-right hand corner of the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram and suggesting that it is a highly evolved star. During its main sequence, it would have been an O star with a mass of about 30 to 40 M?.
VY Canis Majoris