List of star extremes

A star is a sphere that is mainly composed of hydrogen and plasma, held together by gravity and is able to produce light through nuclear fusion. Stars exhibit many diverse properties, resulting from different masses, volumes, velocities, stage in stellar evolution and even proximity to earth. Some of these properties are considered extreme and sometimes disproportionate by astronomers.

VY Canis Hypergiant
Artist's impression of VY Canis Majoris, which is very likely the largest star in the Milky Way.

Age and distance

Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Nearest star Sun Antiquity 1 AU Our local star's distance was first determined in the 3rd century BC by Aristarchus of Samos Reported for reference
Second-nearest star Proxima Centauri 1915 1.30 pc Also called Alpha Centauri C, it is the outlying star in a trinary star system. This is currently the nearest known neighbouring star to our own Sun. This star was discovered in 1915, and its parallax was determined at the time, when enough observations were established. Though it is the nearest known star to the Sun, it is still possible that one or more undetected brown dwarfs are closer.[1] [2][3] List of nearest stars
Most distant individually seen star MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1 (or Icarus) 2018 z=1.49
9.0 Gly
[4][5][6][7] List of the most distant astronomical objects
Most distant star Stars in GN-z11 2016 z=11.09

13.39 Gly

[8] List of the most distant astronomical objects
Oldest star HD 140283 14.5±0.8 billion years the "Methuselah star" [9] List of oldest stars
Youngest Stars are being formed constantly in the universe so it is impossible to tell which star is the youngest. For information on the properties of newly formed stars, See Protostar, Young Stellar Object and Star Formation.
Nearest stars by type
Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Nearest "average" star Alpha Centauri
A & B
1839 1.34 parsecs (4.4 ly) This was the third star whose parallax was determined. Before Alpha Cen, the record was held by 61 Cygni, the first star whose parallax was determined. [NB 1][NB 2][NB 3]
Nearest normal star Alpha Centauri C
(Proxima Centauri)
1915 1.30 parsecs (4.2 ly) Before Proxima, the title had been held by Alpha Centauri A&B. [NB 1][NB 3] [10][11]
Nearest red dwarf Before Proxima, the title had been held by Barnard's Star
Nearest degenerate star Sirius B 1852 8.6 light-years (2.6 pc) This is also the nearest white dwarf [NB 4]
Nearest borderline subgiant Procyon 11.5 light-years (3.5 pc) All stars closer to the Sun are either main sequence or dwarf stars.
Nearest undisputed subgiant Delta Pavonis 19.9 light-years (6.1 pc) A subgiant, but only slightly brighter than the Sun.
Nearest "true" giant star Pollux 33.8 light-years (10.4 pc)
Nearest red giant Arcturus 36.7 light-years (11.3 pc)
Nearest spectral type A or hotter Sirius 8.6 light-years (2.6 pc)
Nearest neutron star RX J185635-3754 2000 400 light-years (120 pc) [12][13][14]
Nearest white dwarf Sirius B 1852 8.6 light-years (2.6 pc) Sirius B is also the first white dwarf discovered. [10][15]
Nearest flare star Proxima Centauri
(Alpha Centauri C)
1.30 parsecs (4.2 ly) α Cen C is also the nearest neighbouring star. [16]
Nearest brown dwarf Luhman 16 2013 6.5 light-years (2.0 pc) This is a pair of brown dwarfs in a binary system, with no other stars. [17]

Brightness and power

Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Brightest star from the Earth: Apparent magnitude Sun prehistoric m=−26.74 Reported for reference
[NB 5][NB 6]
Brightest star other than the Sun Sirius
(Alpha Canis Majoris)
prehistoric m=−1.46 [NB 5][NB 6][NB 7][NB 1] List of brightest stars
Brightest star in a transient event Progenitor of SN 1006 1006 m=−7.5 This was a supernova, and its remnant (SNR) is catalogued as PKS 1459-41 [NB 5][NB 6][NB 1] [18]
Dimmest star from the Earth UDF 2457 [NB 5][NB 6]
Most luminous star R136a1 2010 V=−8.09 [NB 8] [19] List of most luminous stars
Most luminous star in a transient event Progenitor of GRB 080916C 2008 V=−40 The star exploded in a gamma-ray burst with the total energy equal to 9,000 supernovae [NB 8] List of gamma-ray bursts
Least luminous normal star 2MASS J0523-1403 2013 V=20.6 [NB 3][NB 8] [20]
Most energetic star R136a1 2010 B=-12.5 [NB 9] [19] List of most luminous stars
Most energetic star in a transient event Progenitor of GRB 080916C 2008 [NB 9]
Least energetic normal star 2MASS J0523-1403 2013 L=0.000126LSun [NB 3][NB 9] [20]
Hottest normal star WR 102 T=210000 K [21] List of hottest stars
Coolest normal star S Cassiopeiae T=1800 K [22] List of coolest stars
Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Hottest degenerate star KPD 0005+5106
200,000 K
200,000 K
Hottest neutron star At least 100,000K
Hottest white dwarf KPD 0005+5106 2008 200,000 K [25]
Hottest PG 1159 star/GW Vir star RX J2117+3412 1999 170,000 K [26]
Coolest brown dwarf WISE 1828+2650 250–400 K WISE 0855-0714 may be cooler at 225–260 K, but its status as a rogue planet or sub-brown dwarf is not well known as its mass is between 3 and 10 MJ.

Size and mass

Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Largest apparent size star Sun prehistoric
(3rd century BCE)
31.6 – 32.7′ The apparent size of the Sun was first measured by Eratosthenes in the 3rd Century BCE,[27] who was the second person to measure the distance to the Sun. However, Thales of Miletus provided a measurement for the real size of the Sun in the 6th century BCE, as ​1720 the great circle of the Sun (the orbit of the Earth)[28] Reported for reference
[NB 6]
Largest apparent size star other than the Sun R Doradus 1997 0.057" This replaced Betelgeuse as the largest, Betelgeuse having been the first star other than the Sun to have its apparent size measured. [NB 6][NB 1] [29]
Smallest apparent size star [NB 6]
Largest star


Protostars 2012 r=>20,000 RSun Protostars, fragments of nebulae that are beginning to form nuclear fusion-powered stars, would be around the size of the Solar System. List of largest stars
Largest hypothetical star Quasi-star 2007 r=>20,000 RSun Hypothetical Population III stars powered by a supermassive black hole consuming material at the star's center. [30] List of largest stars
Largest "true" star[NB 10]


VY Canis Majoris 2007 r=1,800–2,100 RSun VY Canis Majoris is described as the largest star in the Milky Way though many other red supergiants and hypergiants have estimated sizes larger than it, as the estimates for the sizes of such stars are even more uncertain. [31] List of largest stars
Smallest star EBLM J0555-57Ab 2017 r=0.084 RSun [NB 3] [32][33][34] List of least voluminous stars
Most massive star R136a1 2010 315 MSun This exceeds the predicted limit of 150 solar masses, previously believed to be the limit of stellar mass, according to the leading star formation theories. [NB 11] [19] List of most massive stars
Least massive normal star SCR 1845–6357 A 0.07 MSun [NB 3] [35] List of least massive stars
Most massive stars by type
Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Most massive brown dwarf SDSS J010448.46+153501.8 2017 90 MJupiter This is at the limit between brown dwarfs and red dwarfs.[36][37] [38]
Most massive degenerate star The most massive type of degenerate star is the neutron star. See Most massive neutron star for this recordholder. [NB 4]
Most massive neutron star PSR J0348+0432 2013 2.01 MSun A Black Widow Pulsar called PSR B1957+20 may be more massive than PSR J0348+0432. However, the mass of PSR B1957+20 is quite uncertain. This neutron star's mass is at least 1.66 solar mass, and the upper limit is about 2.4 solar mass. Even so, it will still place within the range of Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit.[39] [40]
Most massive white dwarf RE J0317-853 1998 1.35 MSun [41][42]
Least massive stars by type
Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Least massive degenerate star The least massive type of degenerate star is the white dwarf. See Least massive white dwarf for this recordholder. [NB 4]
Least massive neutron star PSR J0737-3039B 2004 1.249 MSun [43]
Least massive white dwarf SDSS J091709.55+463821.8
(WD J0917+4638)
2007 0.17 MSun [44][45][46][47]
Least massive sub-brown dwarf Jupiter (disputed) Antiquity 1 MJupiter Largest possible degenerate object by diameter. Would qualify as a Sub-brown dwarf, based on mass.


Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Highest proper motion Barnard's Star 10.3 "/yr This is also the fourth closest star to the Solar System. [48][49]
Lowest proper motion
Highest radial velocity
Lowest radial velocity
Highest peculiar motion
Lowest peculiar motion
Highest rotational speed of a normal star VFTS 102 2013 600 km/s [NB 3] [50]
Lowest rotational speed

Star systems

Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Least stars in a star system There are many single star systems.
Most stars in a star system Septuple star system Both are called 7-star systems in the 1997 MSC,[51] and appear in the 2008 MSC.[52] [NB 12] [51][52]
Stars in the closest orbit around one another There are many stars that are in contact binary systems (where two or more stars are in physical contact with each other).
Stars in the most distant orbit around one another HD 134439/HD 134440 0.56±0.25 light-years Orbit is most likely unstable long-term [NB 12]
Nearest multiple star system Alpha Centauri 1839 1.30 parsecs (4.2 ly) This was one of the first three stars to have its distance measured.[53][54] [10][55]
Nearest binary star system Luhman 16 2013 1.998 parsecs (6.52 ly) Brown dwarf binary system. The nearest non-brown dwarf binary is Sirius, and the nearest composed entirely of main-sequence stars is Luyten 726-8.
Nearest trinary star system Alpha Centauri 1839 1.38 parsecs (4.5 ly) Also nearest multiple star system, and nearest star system of any type
Nearest quaternary star system Gliese 570 5.88 parsecs (19.2 ly) K4 star orbited by a pair of M stars, all orbited by a T7 brown dwarf.
Nearest quintenary star system V1054 Ophiuchi 6.46 parsecs (21.1 ly) M3 star orbited by a pair of pair of M4 stars, together orbited by an M3.5 star, all orbited by an M7 star.
Nearest sextenary star system Castor 1718 15.6 parsecs (51 ly) A1 star orbited by a red dwarf, both orbited by another A star orbited by a red dwarf, all orbited by two red dwarfs orbiting each other.
Nearest septenary star system Nu Scorpii 150 parsecs (490 ly) A B3V star orbited by an unknown star, both orbited by another unknown star, together orbited by another unknown star, all orbited by a B9III star orbiting a pair of stars which are a B9III and unknown star.
Star systems by type
Title Object Date Data Comments Notes Refs See more
Shortest period black hole binary system MAXI J1659-152 2013 2.4 hours This exceeds the preceding recordholder by about one hour (Swift J1753.5-0127 with a 3.2 hour period) [56]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Other than the Sun
  2. ^ An "average" star is a normal star which is larger than a red dwarf, but smaller than a giant star. Depending on the definition, this can also be called "Sun-like star".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g A normal star is a star that is past its protostar period, in its main fusion period, before becoming a degenerate star, black hole, or post-stellar nebula, and is not a failed star (brown dwarf).
  4. ^ a b c Not including stellar-mass black holes, or exotic stars
  5. ^ a b c d By visual magnitude (m)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g This is the appearance in the sky from Earth.
  7. ^ This does not include brightest stars due to outbursts
  8. ^ a b c Luminosity here represents how bright a star is if all stars were equally far away, in visible light.
  9. ^ a b c Energetic here is the total electromagnetic energy emitted by a star in all wavelengths.
  10. ^ Not including protostars (see above)
  11. ^ Not including stellar black holes
  12. ^ a b The allowable distance between components of a star system is debated.


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BPM 37093

BPM 37093 (V886 Centauri) is a variable white dwarf star of the DAV, or ZZ Ceti, type, with a hydrogen atmosphere and an unusually high mass of approximately 1.1 times the Sun's. It is about 50 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Centaurus, and vibrates; these pulsations cause its luminosity to vary. Like other white dwarfs, BPM 37093 is thought to be composed primarily of carbon and oxygen, which are created by thermonuclear fusion of helium nuclei in the triple-alpha process.

GQ Lupi b

GQ Lupi b is a possible extrasolar planet or brown dwarf orbiting the star GQ Lupi. Its discovery was announced in April 2005. Along with 2M1207b, this was one of the first extrasolar planet candidates to be directly imaged. The image was made with the VLT telescope at Paranal Observatory, Chile on June 25, 2004.

GQ Lupi b has a spectral type between M6 and L0, corresponding to a temperature between 2,050 and 2,650 kelvins. Located at a projected distance of about 100 AU from its companion star, giving it an orbital period of perhaps about 1,200 years, it is believed to be several times more massive than Jupiter. Because the theoretical models which are used to predict planetary masses for objects in young star systems like GQ Lupi b are still tentative, the mass cannot be precisely specified — models place GQ Lupi b's mass anywhere between a few Jupiter masses and 36 Jupiter masses. At the highest end of this range, GQ Lupi b could be classified as a small brown dwarf, but at the lowest end of this range, it could rather be classified as an extremely large Jupiter-like exoplanet than a brown dwarf.

If classified as an exoplanet, with a maximum radius of 6.5 times that of Jupiter (RJ) (or 930,000 km in diameter), this would make GQ Lupi b one of largest exoplanets discovered, although the size of the planet is shrinking as it evolves.

As of 2006, the International Astronomical Union Working Group on Extrasolar Planets described GQ Lupi b as a "possible planetary-mass companion to a young star."

HD 100546

HD 100546, also known as KR Muscae, is a star 320 light-years from Earth. It is orbited by an approximately 20 MJ exoplanet at 6.5 AU, although further examination of the disk profile indicate it might be a more massive object such as a brown dwarf or more than one planet. The star is surrounded by a circumstellar disk from a distance of 0.2 to 4 AU, and again from 13 AU out to a few hundred AU, with evidence for a protoplanet forming at a distance of around 47 AU.

Estimated to be around 10 million years old, it is at the upper age limit of the class of stars it belongs to—Herbig Ae/Be stars, and also the nearest example to the Solar System.

List of extremes in the sky

This article describes some extremes in the sky as a textual addition to the list of star extremes page.

List of largest stars

Below is an ordered list of the largest stars currently known by radius. The unit of measurement used is the radius of the Sun (approximately 695,700 km; 432,288 mi).

The exact order of this list is very incomplete, as great uncertainties currently remain, especially when deriving various important parameters used in calculations, such as stellar luminosity and effective temperature. Often stellar radii can only be expressed as an average or within a large range of values. Values for stellar radii vary significantly in sources and throughout the literature, mostly as the boundary of the very tenuous atmosphere (opacity) greatly differs depending on the wavelength of light in which the star is observed.

Radii of several stars can be directly obtained by stellar interferometry. Other methods can use lunar occultations or from eclipsing binaries, which can be used to test other indirect methods of finding true stellar size. Only a few useful supergiant stars can be occulted by the Moon, including Antares and Aldebaran. Examples of eclipsing binaries include Epsilon Aurigae, VV Cephei, and HR 5171.

Lists of stars

The following are lists of stars. These are astronomical objects that spend some portion of their existence generating energy through thermonuclear fusion.

MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1

MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1, also known as Icarus, is a blue supergiant star observed through a gravitational lens. It is the most distant individual star detected, at approximately 14 billion light-years from Earth (redshift z=1.49; comoving distance of 14.4 billion light-years; lookback time of 9.34 billion years), as of April 2018. Light from the star was emitted 4.4 billion years after the Big Bang. According to co-discoverer Patrick Kelly, the star is at least a hundred times more distant than the next-farthest non-supernova star observed, SDSS J1229+1122, and is the first magnified individual star seen.

Star systems
Related articles

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