when seen side by side with, say, the planet Venus, our sun looks pretty huge – but lurking out beyond our solar system are millions upon millions of much bigger stars. the range from larger Main Sequence stars through to Giants, Bright Giants, Supergiants and Hypergiants. these include absolute monsters like VY Canis Majoris, the largest known star, which is about 1800-2100 times bigger than our sun. you can find out more about giant stars next Tuesday, when Professor Paul Crowther delivers a public lecture at the Royal Astronomical Society in London


top: VY Canis Majoris imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in polarized light. credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Humphreys (University of Minnesota)

above: Betelgeuse imaged in ultraviolet by the Hubble Space Telescope. credit: Andrea Dupree (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), Ronald Gilliland (STScI), NASA and ESA