Universe Guide

VY Canis Majoris (Supergiant Star) Star Facts

VY Canis Majoris Facts

  • VY Canis Majoris is a pulsating luminous giant star that can be located in the constellation of Canis Major. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • VY Canis Majoris is not part of the constellation outline but is within the borders of the constellation.
  • Based on the spectral type (M3/M4II:) of the star, the star's colour is red .
  • The star can not be seen by the naked eye, you need a telescope to see it.
  • VY Canis Majoris has a radius that is 1,420.00 times bigger than the Suns. Radius
  • The star is calculated at being about 1832.38 light years away from us. Distance

Information on VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris is one of the biggest stars in The Milky Way, it is so large that if it was placed at the centre of our Solar System, its radius would reach out past the orbit of Jupiter and we`d be inside its ball of fire. It won`t live much longer as stars that are big live quick, die young. It was once thought to be the biggest star in the observable Universe but that accolade belongs to UY Scuti. Given our limits to what we can see, VY Canis Majoris might be a titchy star compared to a bigger giant out there somewhere

The star is believed to be enveloped in a Nebula which was caused probably by ejections from itself. When it does go out, it will probably turn into a Wolf-Rayet star or go supernova. If it does go bang, Earth will not be affected by the gamma-ray bursts as we`re so far away to be affected by them.

VY Canis Majoris's Alternative Names

HIP35793 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD58061.

VY Canis Majoris has alternative name(s) :- , VY CMa.

More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .

Location of VY Canis Majoris

The location of the luminous giant star in the night sky is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the object is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For VY Canis Majoris, the location is 07h 22m 58.33 and -25° 46` 03.2 .

Physical Properties of VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris Temperature and Colour

Based on the star's spectral type of M3/M4II: , VY Canis Majoris's colour and type is red luminous giant star. The star has a B-V Colour Index of 2.05 which means the star's temperature is about 1,500 Kelvin. The temperature was calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu.

VY Canis Majoris Radius

VY Canis Majoris Radius has been calculated as being 1,420.00 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 988,036,000.00.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2.

VY Canis Majoris Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

VY Canis Majoris has an apparent magnitude of 8.08 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. Using the supplied Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -0.67 Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.

Distance to VY Canis Majoris

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 1.78 which gave the calculated distance to VY Canis Majoris as 1832.38 light years away from Earth or 561.80 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 10,771,875,561,314,183.29, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

Travel Time to VY Canis Majoris

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A3807361,669,598,503.60
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.2691,601,556,297.27
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.54800,777,104.96
New Horizons Probe33,00037,237,106.02
Speed of Light670,616,629.001,832.38

Variable Type of VY Canis Majoris

The star is a pulsating Slow Irregular variable type which means that its size changes over time. The Variable Type is usually named after the first star of that type to be spotted. VY Canis Majoris brightness ranges from a magnitude of 8.762 to a magnitude of 7.444 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star. Its variable/pulsating period lasts for 1.1 days (variability).

Source of Information

The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.

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Additional VY Canis Majoris Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NameVY Canis Majoris
Alternative NamesHD 58061, HIP 35793, VY CMa
Spectral TypeM3/M4II:
Constellation's Main StarNo
Multiple Star SystemYes
Star TypeLuminous Giant Star
GalaxyMilky Way
ConstellationCanis Major
Absolute Magnitude -0.67
Visual / Apparent Magnitude8.08
Naked Eye VisibleRequires a 7x50 Binoculars - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)07h 22m 58.33
Declination (Dec.)-25° 46` 03.2
Galactic Latitude-5.07 degrees
Galactic Longitude239.35 degrees
Distance from Earth1.78 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 1832.38 Light Years
 561.80 Parsecs
 115,878,760.70 Astronomical Units
B-V Index2.05
Radial Velocity72.70 ± 3.30 km/s

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Variable Star Details

Variable Star ClassPulsating
Variable Star TypeSlow Irregular
Mean Variability Period in Days1.099
Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)7.444 - 8.762

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)1,420.00 - 2,000.00
Effective Temperature1,500 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Multi-Star System

The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.

Proper Motion mas/yr
H.D. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
58061-25 4441.2A7.80000-35.0000022.00000M0Red

Location of VY Canis Majoris in Canis Major

VY Canis Majoris Location in Canis Major

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

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