M Stars

Article written: 8 Feb , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Astronomers classify stars into groups according to their color and the presence of elements in the stars’ spectral signatures. This star classification system goes like this: O, B, A, F, G, K, M (here’s a way to remember them: “Oh be a fine girl, kiss me”.) M stars are coolest and most common stars in the Universe.

M stars range in temperature from 2,500 Kelvin and go all the way up to 3,500 Kelvin. They look red to our eyes. M stars account for 75% of the stars in our stellar neighborhood, so they’re the most common by far! Most M stars are tiny red dwarfs, with less than 50% of the mass of the Sun, but some are actually giants and supergiants, like the red giant Betelgeuse.

Some familiar M stars include Betalgeuse (red giant), and the red dwarfs Proxima Centauri, Barnard’s star, and Gliese 581

We have written many articles about stars here on Universe Today. Here’s an article about how red dwarf stars have small habitable zones.

If you’d like more information on stars, check out Hubblesite’s News Releases about Stars, and here’s the stars and galaxies homepage.

We have recorded several episodes of Astronomy Cast about stars. Here are two that you might find helpful: Episode 12: Where Do Baby Stars Come From, and Episode 13: Where Do Stars Go When they Die?


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