When looking up at the night sky, humans get philosophical and have a lot of questions. Such as, “What is that star called?,” “Is there life on one planet orbiting that star system?,” and “What are the largest stars in the Milky Way?” Let’s take a look at one of those questions, in regards to some of the largest stars in the Milky Way. There are thought to be are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way. That number is so large that it’s almost inconceivable. But let’s take a look at the 5 largest stars!
The largest star in the Milky Way, UY Scuti is an extreme red hypergiant or red supergiant star in the constellation Scutum. In addition to being the largest star in the Milky Way, scientists consider UY Scuti one of the largest known stars by radius and is also a pulsating variable star, with a maximum brightness of magnitude 8.29 and a minimum of magnitude 10.56. It has an estimated radius of 1,708 solar radii; therefore, having a volume nearly 5 billion times that of the Sun. If it were to be placed at the center of the Solar System, its photosphere would at least engulf the orbit of Jupiter.
VY Canis Majoris
Located in Canis Major, VY Canis Majoris is an extreme oxygen-rich red hypergiant or red supergiant that has a radius of roughly 1,420 times that of the Sun.
It is a hypergiant variable star in the constellation Cepheus. RW Cephei’s radius is more than 1,000 times that of the Sun, thus larger than the orbit of Jupiter. It is thought to be dimming similar to what was observed by Betelgeuse in late 2019. Based on temperatures, it is thought that the star its somewhere between a red and yellow hyper giant.
V354 Cephei is a red supergiant star located within the Milky Way. It is an irregular variable located over 8,900 light-years away from the Sun with an estimated radius of 685 solar radii. If it were placed in the center of the Solar System, V354 Cephei would extend to between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It can be found in the constellation Cepheus.
KY Cygni is a red supergiant of spectral class M3.5Ia located in the constellation Cygnus. It is approximately 5,000 light-years away. KY Cyg lies near the bright open cluster NGC 6913, but is not thought to be a member. The location is close to the bright star γ Cygni. It was identified as a variable star in 1930, and later named as KY Cygni. It is a red supergiant.