NOV 18, 2019 4:50 PM PST

Say Hello to the Largest Star Ever Discovered

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

There are so many stars in the modern universe that we couldn’t ever hope to count them all. Many are so distant from us that we can’t even see them, while others are obfuscated by space debris and neighboring bright objects. But of all the stars we can discern, the largest is the peculiarly named UY Scuti, which measures approximately 1,708 ±192 solar radii.

UY Scuti resides more than 5,100 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Scutum near the center of the Milky Way, and it’s currently classified as a red hypergiant variable star. Based on its sheer size, astronomers believe that it’s no longer in its main sequence, and that it’s on the verge of dying. At this stage in its life, pressure from fusion happening within the star pushes against its own gravity, causing a ballooning effect.

It should also be noted that size and mass aren’t linear, and that UY Scuti’s vast size doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s more massive than a slightly smaller star. The red hypergiant’s ballooning effect plays a significant role in this, making the star out to appear more massive than it truly is. Likewise, being so massive doesn’t mean that UY Scuti is that hot either; in fact, its surface is almost one-half as hot as our Sun’s.

Another thing that makes UY Scuti particularly interesting is the fact that it’s a variable star. Due to the instable battle of pressures between fusion and gravity, material is constantly fluctuating at and near the surface, resulting in luminosity changes that can be observed over time. Astronomers find these kinds of stars particularly interesting because they can teach us more about what happens inside of stars.

Like many other stars, astronomers think that UY Scuti could support a planetary system, but the expansion of the host star may have already enveloped the inner-most exoplanets. UY Scuti is also so dim that it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to observe those exoplanets first-hand; furthermore, any dips in starlight created by transit events are likely to be indiscernible due to the star’s inconsistent and variable brightness.

UY Scuti is a captivating star, and you can certainly bet that astronomers won’t be letting their eyes off it anytime soon. As it would seem, we still have much to learn despite how much we think we know already.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 24, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 24, 2019
Spacewalking Astronauts Attempt to Fix AMS-02's Cooling System
When you’re an astronaut at the International Space Station, being asked to take on risky spacewalk missions is par for the course. In just the last...
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
Why NASA's Artemis Mission is So Important
If you’ve been following NASA, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about the American space agency’s Artemis mission. Artemis is all about laun...
DEC 31, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 31, 2019
Why Does This Star Dim Unpredictably?
KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s Star or the infamous ‘alien megastructure star,’ is peculiar because the star’s light seems to d...
JAN 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 05, 2020
It's Finally the Year of the Mars 2020 Mission
It’s officially 2020, and with that in mind, anyone paying attention to NASA’s launch schedule should know already that the Mars 2020 rover is...
JAN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 14, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Jupiter?
Jupiter, recognized by most as the largest known planet in our solar system, is a particularly interesting place. So interesting, in fact, that NASA sent a...
FEB 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 23, 2020
NASA Resolves a Minor Hiccup with Voyager 2 Spacecraft's Performance
After spending more than four decades in outer space, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft officially left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space in D...
Loading Comments...