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RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comparison of the sizes of the Sun and the red supergiant star UY Scuti, a leading candidate for the largest star known. The Sun has a radius of some 695,700 kilometres. The view rapidly pulls back to show the orbits of the inner planets: Mercury (average orbital distance of 58 million kilometres), Venus (108m km), Earth (150m km) and Mars (228m km). There is then a large gap to the orbit of Jupiter (778m km). UY Scuti is so large that it would completely engulf Jupiter, reaching almost as far as the orbit of Saturn, 1.43 billion kilometres out. It is estimated to be some 1708 times wider than the Sun. It is also one of the most luminous stars known, with 340,000 times the Sun's output. Despite this, the star is not visible to the naked eye, as it is some 9500 light years from Earth, and masked from view behind the dust of the Milky Way.
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