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VY Canis Majoris

red hypergiant in the constellation Canis Major
VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris (VY CMa) is a red hypergiant star in the constellation Canis Major. It is about 1.2 kiloparsecs (3,900 light-years) distant from Earth. It is one of the largest known stars, and one of the most luminous of its type.

VY Canis Majoris is 1,420 times wider than the Sun.[1] If placed at the center of the Solar System, VY Canis Majoris's surface would extend beyond Jupiter's orbit. Other estimates of the radius make it larger than the orbit of Saturn.[2]

VY CMa is a single star, a "semiregular" variable with a period of about 2,001 days. It has an average density of 5 to 10 mg/m3.

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  1. Wittkowski M. et al 2012. Fundamental properties and atmospheric structure of the red supergiant VY CMa based on VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometry. Astronomy & Astrophysics 540: L12. [1]
  2. Massey, Philip; Levesque, Emily M.; Plez, Bertrand (2006). "Bringing VY Canis Majoris down to size: an improved determination of its effective temperature". The Astrophysical Journal 646 (2): 1203–1208. doi:10.1086/505025.