List of most massive stars

List of most massive stars

This is a list of the most-massive stars so far discovered. The list is ordered by solar mass (1 solar mass = the mass of Earth's Sun).

Stellar mass is the most important attribute of a star. Combined with chemical compositions, mass determines a star’s luminosity, its physical size, and its ultimate fate. Due to their mass, most of the stars below will eventually go supernova or hypernova, and form black holes.


Uncertainties and caveats

Most of the masses listed below are contested, and being the subject of current research, are constantly being revised.

The masses listed in the table below are inferred from theory, using difficult measurements of the stars’ temperatures and absolute brightnesses. All the listed masses are uncertain: both the theory and the measurements are pushing the limits of current knowledge and technology. Either measurement or theory, or both, could be incorrect. An example is VV Cephei, which, depending on which property of the star is examined, could be between 25 to 40, or 100 solar masses.

Massive stars are rare; astronomers must look very far from the Earth to find one. All the listed stars are many thousands of light years away, and that alone makes measurements difficult. In addition to being far away, it seems that most stars of such extreme mass are surrounded by clouds of outflowing gas; the surrounding gas obscures the already difficult-to-obtain measurements of the stars’ temperatures and brightnesses, and greatly complicates the issue of measuring their internal chemical compositions. For some methods, different chemical composition leads to different mass estimates.

In addition, the clouds of gas obscure observations of whether the star is just one supermassive star, or instead a multiple star system. A number of the stars below may actually consist of two or more companions in close orbit, each star being massive in itself, but not necessary supermassive. Alternatively, it is possible for a multiple-star system to still have one (or more) supermassive star, with one (or more) much smaller companion(s). Without being able to see inside of the surrounding cloud, it is difficult to know which scenario might be the case.

Amongst the most reliable listed masses are NGC 3603-A1 and WR20a+b, which were obtained from orbital measurements. They are both members of (different) binary star systems, and it is possible to measure in both cases the individual masses of the two stars by studying their orbital motion, via Kepler's laws of planetary motion. This involves measuring their radial velocities and also their light curves, as both stars are eclipsing binaries.

Stellar evolution

A number of the stars may have started out with even greater masses than those currently estimated, but due to the huge amount of gas they outflow, and sub-supernova and supernova impostor explosion events, have lost many tens of solar masses of material.

Also there are a number of supernovae and hypernovae remnants whose precursor stars' masses can be estimated based on pre-super/hypernova observations, the energy of the super/hypernova, and the type of super/hypernova event. These stars (if they had not exploded) would have easily made appearances in this list (however they are not shown below).

List of the most massive stars

Known stars with an estimated mass of 25 or greater solar masses. Masses are their current assumed mass, not their initial (formation) mass:

Star name Solar mass
R136a1 [1] 265–320
WR 101e 150–160
HD 269810 150
Peony Nebula Star 150
LBV 1806-20 130–200
HD 93129 A + B[2][3] A=120–127, B=80
HD 93250 118
NGC 3603-A1 A=116, B=89
Pismis 24-1 A + B[4][5] A=100–120, B=100
Arches cluster[6][7][8] Many stars, 100–130
Pismis 24-17[5] 100
Hineliun 100
S Doradus 100
Eta Carinae[9] 90–100
Cygnus OB2-12 92
WR20 a + b[10] A=83, B=82
The Pistol Star 80–150
Melnick 42[11][12][13] 80–100
HD 97950[14][15] 80
Sk-71 51[16] 80
R 126 70
Companion to M33 X-7[17] 70
LY Aurigae 64
LH54-425 A + B[18] A=62, B=37
Var 83 in M33[19] 60–85
Sher 25 in NGC 3603[20] 60
Zeta-1 Scorpii[21] 60
Zeta Puppis[22] 59
WR22[23] 55–74
Plaskett A + B[24][25] A=43, B=51
AG Carinae 50
WR102c[26] 45–55
IRS-8*[27] 44.5
HD 5980 A + B[28][29][30] A=40–62, B=30
DL Crucis 40–50
Epsilon Orionis 40
HD 148937[31][32] 40
IRAS 05423-7120[16] 40
Rho Cassiopeiae 40
RW Cephei 40
Theta1 Orionis C 40
Xi Persei[33] 40
V382 Carinae 39
Companion to NGC300 X-1[34] 38
Cluster R136a 12 stars, all 37–76
Chi2 Orionis[35] 35–40
Companion to IC10 X-1[36] 35
Nu Aquilae 30-45
VY Canis Majoris[37][38] 30–40
19 Cephei 30–35
Gamma Velorum A 30
P Cygni 30
R 66 30
Eta Canis Majoris 30
Zeta Orionis 28
IRS 15[39] 26
VV Cephei 25–40
Alpha Camelopardalis[40][41] 25–30
6 Cassiopeiae[42][43] 25
EZ Canis Majoris 25
KY Cygni[44] 25
Mu Cephei 25
V509 Cassiopeiae 25
NGC 7538 S[45] 20–40
S Monocerotis A[46] 18–30
WR47 8–48

Black holes

Black holes are the end point evolution of massive stars. Technically they are not stars, as they no longer generate heat and light via nuclear fusion in their cores.

Eddington's size limit

Astronomers have long theorized that as a protostar grows to a size beyond 120 solar masses, something drastic must happen. Although the limit can be stretched for very early Population III stars, if any stars existed above 120 solar mass, they would challenge current theories of stellar evolution.[citation needed]

The limit on mass arises because stars of greater mass have a higher rate of core energy generation, which is higher far out of proportion to their greater mass. For a sufficiently massive star, the outward pressure of radiant energy generated by nuclear fusion in the star’s core exceeds the inward pull of its own gravity. This is called the Eddington limit. Beyond this limit, a star ought to push itself apart, or at least shed enough mass to reduce its internal energy generation to a lower, maintainable rate. In theory, a more massive star could not hold itself together, because of the mass loss resulting from the outflow of stellar material.

Studying the Arches cluster, which is the densest known cluster of stars in our galaxy, astronomers have confirmed that stars in that cluster do not occur any larger than about 150 solar masses.

See also


  1. ^ Paul A. Crowther et al (2010) "The R136 star cluster hosts several stars whose individual masses greatly exceed the accepted 150 Msun stellar mass limit", accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Available at arXiv:1007.3284v1 [1]. Advertised in ESO Press Release 1030 [2]
  2. ^ HD 93129A
  3. ^ Big and Giant Stars: HD 93129
  4. ^ HDE 319718 (Pis 24-1) and the Pismis 24 Cluster
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Massive Stars in the Arches Cluster
  7. ^ Hubble Weighs In On The Heaviest Stars In The Galaxy
  8. ^ [0711.0657] The most massive stars in the Arches cluster
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Energy Citations Database (ECD) - - Document #5225537
  13. ^ Big and Giant Stars: Melnick 42
  14. ^ Big and Giant Stars: HD 97950
  15. ^ Quantitative spectroscopy of Wolf-Rayet stars in HD97950 and R136a - the cores o
  16. ^ a b The Blob, the Very Rare Massive Star and the Two Populations - Striking Image of Nebula N214C taken with ESO's NTT at La Silla | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference
  17. ^ NASA - Heaviest Stellar Black Hole Discovered in Nearby Galaxy
  18. ^ Big and Giant Stars: LH54-425
  19. ^ Big and Giant Stars: Var 83
  20. ^ Big and Giant Stars: Sher 25
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Big and Giant Stars: Plaskett's Star
  25. ^ Plaskett's Star
  26. ^
  27. ^ Does IRS-8 contain the youngest and most massive star in the Galactic Center? | Gemini Observatory
  28. ^ Big and Giant Stars: HD 5980
  29. ^ ESA - Space Science - First X-ray detection of a colliding-wind binary beyond the Milky Way
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ A Remnant Disk around a Young Massive Star
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ Witnessing the birth of a massive star
  46. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • List of most luminous stars — Below is a list of stars arranged in order of decreasing luminosity (increasing bolometric magnitude). Accurate measurement of stellar luminosities is quite difficult in practice, even when the apparent magnitude is measured accurately, for three …   Wikipedia

  • List of least massive stars — This is a list of the least massive stars known. The list is ordered by solar mass and Jovian mass.This list includes brown dwarfs and red dwarfs. The name of each brown dwarf has background color brown, and the names of and red dwarfs are… …   Wikipedia

  • List of brown dwarfs — The first free floating brown dwarf discovered is Teide 1 in 1995. The first brown dwarf discovered that orbits a star is Gliese 229B, also discovered in 1995. The first brown dwarf to have a planet is 2M1207, discovered in 2004.Since a brown… …   Wikipedia

  • Stars and planetary systems in fiction — The planetary systems of stars other than the Sun and the Solar System are a staple element in much science fiction. Contents 1 Overview 1.1 The brightest stars …   Wikipedia

  • List of minor characters of Scrubs — The following are a list of minor characters from the American comedy drama Scrubs . Recurring charactersThese cast members have appeared in numerous episodes but remain credited as guest stars. Jordan Sullivan Ted Buckland Keith Dudemeister Dr.… …   Wikipedia

  • List of nearest stars — Artist s conception of a red dwarf star, the most common type of star in the Sun s stellar neighborhood, and in the universe. Although termed a red dwarf, the surface temperature of this star would give it an orange hue when viewed from close… …   Wikipedia

  • List of films considered the worst — The films listed here have achieved notably negative reception as being called the worst films ever made. The films have been cited by a combination of reputable sources as the worst movies of all time. Examples of such sources include Metacritic …   Wikipedia

  • List of proper names of stars — This is a list of proper names for stars, mostly derived from Arabic and Latin. See also the list of stars by constellation, which gives variant names, derivations, and magnitudes. Of the roughly 10,000 stars visible to the naked eye, only few… …   Wikipedia

  • List of selected stars for navigation — The selected stars for navigation are often used for sextant observations. Fifty eight selected navigational stars are given a special status in the field of celestial navigation. Of the approximately 6,000 stars visible to the naked eye under… …   Wikipedia

  • List of notable asteroids — Vesta is the brightest and second most massive asteroid. It suffered a crust penetrating impact approximately one billion years ago.[1] The following is a collection of lists of notable asteroids in the Solar System. For the purpo …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.