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VY Canis Majoris
The Largest Star That Has So Far Been Discovered
About VY Canis Majoris
Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant star that
when viewed from earth is very close to
the constellation Canis Major. As you can
see in the lower image, Canis Majoris
ejects large amounts of gas during it’s
outbursts. Canis Majoris has been found
to be very unstable. It is expected to
hypernova in 100,000 years. Many
hypergiants exist in binary star systems
or multiple star systems, but Canis
Majoris is a single star. It is about 1.5
kiloparsecs (4,900 light years) from
Canis Majoris is the largest star that has so far been discovered. When viewed from earth
it’s very tiny, which means it has a very small apparent magnitude. Canis Majoris is so large
that you could fit about seven quadrillion earths inside of it. To put this into perspective, if
earth were the size of a golf ball, Canis Majoris would be the height of Mt. Everest. It is
estimated that the diameter of Canis Majoris is 1.7 billion miles. As you can see in the
picture on the right, the sun is only one pixel when compared to Canis Majoris. The chart on
the left compares the size of all the planets in our solar system to some commonly
recognized stars, including our sun and Canis Majoris.
Jerome Lalande
Jerome Lalande was a French astronomer that lived from 1732-1807. Lalande is credited
with the discovery of Canis Majoris. He cataloged the star on March 7, 1801, and he listed as
a 7th magnitude star. However, it is now said that it is closer to an 8th magnitude star. The
greater a star’s magnitude the less bright it is.