January 11, 2005
SAN DIEGO, California: Astronomers have discovered three giant stars in the Milky Way, an international conference in California was told today.
The three "red giants" were found among 74 stars studied by a group of international astronomers.
All are approaching the end of their life cycle and are very cold, bright and enormous, said Philip Massey of the Lowell telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The red giants are the largest stars ever observed. Each is 1500 times that of our sun.
The stars are KW Sagitarii, located 9800 light years away; V354 Cephei, which is 9000 light years away and KY Cygni, located 5200 light-years away.
By comparison, the Betelgeuse, another red giant in the Orion constellation, has a radius 650 times that of our sun.
The biggest star known prior to the new discovery was the "Garnet Star" of Herschel also known as "mu Cephei".