The 10 biggest stars in the Universe - medical - 2023
- What is a star?
- What are the biggest stars in the galaxy?
- 10. Pollux: 12,000,000 km
- 9. Arturo: 36,000,000 km
- 8. Aldebaran: 61,000,000 km
- 7. Rigel: 97,000,000 km
- 6. Gun Star: 425,000,000 km
- 5. Antares A: 946,000,000 km
- 4. Betelgeuse: 1,300,000,000 km
- 3. Mu Cephei: 1,753,000,000 km
- 2. VY Canis Majoris: 2,000,000,000 km
- 1. UY Scuti: 2,400,000,000 km
If we were to undertake a journey to the ends of the Universe, we would discover that there are celestial bodies out there of colossal sizes, so large that they are impossible to visualize in our (limited) human mind.
And the largest objects that we can currently observe, leaving out nebulae and black holes (technically we can't see them), they are undoubtedly the stars. These huge incandescent spheres that make up the sky are the basis for the existence of planets.
And for us, the Sun is the most important star. We also know that it is very large.In fact, it could hold 1,300,000 Earths. Simply amazing. But everything becomes more incredible when we realize that the Sun, if we compare it with others, is a small star.
Every year new stars are discovered and, although currently we can only study exactly those of our galaxy, the Milky Way (it is one of the billions of the Universe), we have already found ourselves with stars thousands of times bigger than the Sun. In today's article, then, we will take a journey through our galaxy to find the 10 largest stars.
- We recommend reading: “What is the Multiverse? Definition and principles of this theory "
What is a star?
Before starting with our top, it is interesting to define exactly what a star is. A star is, broadly speaking, a large celestial body made of incandescent plasma, which leads it to shine with its own light.
In other words, a star is a nuclear reactor on a colossal scale, since these spheres of gas and plasma (a fluid state of matter similar to gas) contain enormous quantities especially of hydrogen, which, in the nucleus, undergoes a process of nuclear fusion (two hydrogen atoms come together) to form helium.
This chemical reaction occurs in the core of stars at enormous pressures and temperatures (15,000,000 ° C) and culminates in the release of immense amounts of energy in the form of heat, light, and electromagnetic radiation. In fact, in a single second, the Sun produces enough energy to meet the world's current energy needs for half a million years.
Stars can take many different sizes, but they always have this spherical shape due to force compensation. And it is that the immense gravity that it generates attracts it towards its own interior, but the nuclear energy of the nucleus drives it out. So when the star runs out of hydrogen to fuse, it collapses on its own gravity. And at that moment, it dies, leaving a black hole as a remnant, although this only happens with massive stars.
- We recommend you read: "The 15 strangest planets in the Universe"
What are the biggest stars in the galaxy?
It is estimated that in our galaxy there could be about 100 billion stars. This figure, which is already staggering in itself, dwarfs when we remember that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is only one of the 100,000 million galaxies believed to be in the Universe.
Therefore, taking into account that we have only observed stars in our galaxy (and that, obviously, we have not discovered them all) and that we have already discovered giants like the ones we will see next, what does the future hold for us?
Let's start our journey. The stars are arranged in increasing order of size. For each one, we have indicated its diameter in kilometers. And since it's hard to imagine, let's put it in perspective: the Sun has a diameter of 1,400,000 km and we have already said that more than a million Earths could fit here. So get ready to discover incredibly large stars.
10. Pollux: 12,000,000 km
Pollux is an orange giant type star located in the constellation Gemini. Despite being number 10 on the list, we are already talking about a star almost ten times bigger than the Sun. In addition, it is the seventeenth brightest star that we can see in the sky. It is located 33.7 light years from Earth, being the closest star to us on this list.
The star Pollux. The little orange star on the left is our Sun.
9. Arturo: 36,000,000 km
We continue our journey with the star Arthur, also known as Arcturus. This star, which is the third brightest in the night sky, is a red giant. After the previous one, it is the one that is closest to us: “only” 36.7 light years. It is so large that at its core it is believed to be performs the fusion of helium into carbon. And it is that all the chemical elements come from the interior of the stars. And the heavier the element, the more energy it takes. Our Sun is so small that it can only reach the second element, which is helium.
The star Arthur (also known as Arcturus). To his left, Pollux.
8. Aldebaran: 61,000,000 km
Aldebaran, a star located in the constellation of Taurus and which is the thirteenth brightest in the sky, is an orange giant. What is surprising is that, despite being almost 60 times larger than the Sun, its mass is not even twice that of our star. This suggests that it has gone through different phases of its life, forming carbon, oxygen and nitrogen and that it is now at an expansion point, so is close to becoming a red giant, like the ones we will see below. It is located about 65 light years from us.
The star Aldebaran. On your left, Arturo.
7. Rigel: 97,000,000 km
We are already in absolutely incredible sizes. Rigel is a blue supergiant that is located about 860 light years from Earth. It is the brightest star in the constellation Orion and is so immensely large that if we put it in our solar system, it would extend all the way to Mercury. You are very late in life and it is believed that in a few million years the star will die with a supernova explosion.
The star Rigel. To his left, Aldebaran.
6. Gun Star: 425,000,000 km
We take an incredible leap in size. The Gun Star, cataloged as a blue hypergiant, if we put it in our solar system, it would reach the orbit of Mars. In other words, we "would be eaten." Shine as much as 10 million Suns, thus becoming one of the brightest stars in our galaxy. It is about 26,000 light years from us, near the center of the galaxy.
The Gun Star. The little star on your left is Rigel.
5. Antares A: 946,000,000 km
We doubled the size with respect to the previous one and we found Antares A, a red supergiant that is 550 light years from us. The most spectacular of all, beyond size, is that it is believed to be very close to exploding, leaving a neutron star (one of the densest objects in the Universe) as a remnant. and even a black hole.
- We recommend reading: "The 10 densest materials and objects in the Universe"
The star Antares A. To its left we see the Pistol Star.
4. Betelgeuse: 1,300,000,000 km
Can you imagine a star that, placed in the center of our solar system, would almost reach the orbit of Jupiter? This is what would happen with Betelgeuse, a true "monster" of our galaxy. This red supergiant, located about 642 light years from us, is the ninth brightest star in the night sky. Given its colossal size and relatively low surface temperatures, it is believed that in a few thousand years it will explode as a supernova, leaving a "mark" in the sky that could be larger than the Moon. Regardless, there is a lot of controversy as to when this will happen.
The colossal star Betelgeuse. The tiny dot on the left is Rigel.
3. Mu Cephei: 1,753,000,000 km
Mu Cephei is a red supergiant located about 6,000 light years from us. It is so incredibly large that if we put it in the center of our solar system, it would practically reach the orbit of Saturn. It is located in the constellation Cepheus and has a very intense red color appreciable even with low budget telescopes.
The star Mu Cephei. To his left, Antares A.
2. VY Canis Majoris: 2,000,000,000 km
For a long time the biggest known star. VY Canis Majoris, a red hypergiant located about 3,840 light years from us, is so immensely large that, if placed in the center of the solar system, would exceed the orbit of Saturn.
On the right, Canis Majoris. On the left, the star Betelgeuse.
1. UY Scuti: 2,400,000,000 km
We finish the list with what, for now, is the largest star in our galaxy. UY Scuti, located about 9,500 light years from us, is so incredibly large that if you tried to circle its surface In a plane at 900 km / h without stopping at any time, the trip would take you almost 3,000 years. Simply amazing.
It is so massive that atoms of different metals are forming in its nucleus. It is very likely that its life will end with a supernova explosion that leaves behind a black hole.