MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the Sun compared to larger stars. The animation starts with a view of our Sun, Sol. It then pulls back to show the white star Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris), which is 1.7 times the size of the Sun. Next is the orange giant Arcturus (Alpha Bootis), 26 times the Sun's size. Next is the red giant Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri), 44 times the Sun's size. After this is the blue supergiant Rigel (Beta Orionis), some 78 times the size of the Sun, and wider than the orbit of Mercury. This immensely powerful star is the sixth brightest in the sky, despite its distance of some 900 light years. After this is Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), an enormous red supergiant some 1180 times the Sun's diameter, which would stretch almost to the orbit of Jupiter if it were in the Sun's place. Even that giant star is surpassed by the vast VY Canis Majoris, the largest star known. It is a red hypergiant thought to have a diameter some 2000 times that of the Sun - if in the centre of the solar system, it would extend past the orbit of Saturn.
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