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An O-type main-sequence star (O V) is a main-sequence (core hydrogen-burning) star of spectral type O and luminosity class V. These stars have between 15 and 90 times the mass of the Sun and surface temperatures between 30,000 and 50,000 K. They are between 40,000 and 1,000,000 times as luminous as the Sun.

Spectral standard stars
Spectrum of an O5V star

The "anchor" standards which define the MK classification grid for O-type main-sequence stars, i.e. those standards which have not changed since the early 20th century, are S Monocerotis (O7 V) and 10 Lacertae (O9 V).[1]

The Morgan–Keenan–Kellerman (MKK) "Yerkes" atlas from 1943 listed O-type standards between O5 and O9, but only split luminosity classes for the O9s.[2] The two MKK O9 V standards were Iota Orionis and 10 Lacertae. The revised Yerkes standards ("MK") presented listed in Johnson & Morgan (1953)[3] presented no changes to the O5 to O8 types, and listed 5 O9 V standards (HD 46202, HD 52266, HD 57682, 14 Cephei, 10 Lacertae) and 3 O9.5 V standards (HD 34078, Sigma Orionis, Zeta Ophiuchi). An important review on spectral classification by Morgan & Keenan (1973)[4] listed "revised MK" standards for O4 to O7, but again no splitting of standards by luminosity classes. This review also listed main-sequence "dagger standards" of O9 V for 10 Lacertae and O9.5 V for Sigma Orionis.

O-type luminosity classes for subtypes earlier than O5 were not defined with standard stars until the 1970s. The spectral atlas of Morgan, Abt, & Tapscott (1978)[5] defined listed several O-type main-sequence (luminosity class "V") standards: HD 46223 (O4 V), HD 46150 (O5 V), HD 199579 (O6 V), HD 47839 (O7 V), HD 46149 (O8 V), and HD 46202 (O9 V). Walborn & Fitzpartrick (1990)[6] provided the first digital atlas of spectra for OB-type stars, and included a main-sequence standard for O3 V (HDE 303308). Spectral class O2 was defined in Walborn et al. (2002), with the star BI 253 acting as the O2 V primary standard (actually type "O2 V((f*))"). They also redefined HDE 303308 as an O4 V standard, and listed new O3 V standards (HD 64568 and LH 10-3058).[7]

These are rare objects; it is estimated that there are no more than 20,000 class O stars in the entire Milky Way,[8] around one in 10,000,000 of all stars. Class O main sequence stars are between 15 and 90 M☉ and have surface temperatures between 30,000 and 50,000 K. Their bolometric luminosities are between 30,000 and 1,000,000 L☉. Their radii are more modest at around 10 R☉. Surface gravities are around 10,000 times that of the Earth, relatively low for a main sequence star. Absolute magnitudes range from about −4, 3,400 times brighter than the sun, to about −5.8, 18,000 times brighter than the sun.[9][10]

Class O stars are very young, no more than a few million years old, and in our galaxy they all have high metallicities, around twice that of the sun.[9] O-type main sequence stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, with lower metallicity, have noticeably higher temperatures, with the most obvious cause being lower mass loss rates.[11] The most luminous class O stars have mass loss rates of more than a millionth M☉ each year, although the least luminous lose far less. Their stellar winds have a terminal velocity around 2,000 km/s.[12]
Prominent O-class main sequence stars

θ Muscae is a naked-eye Wolf-Rayet star, but the majority of the visible light is produced by an O-class main sequence companion and an OB supergiant.
9 Sagittarii is a spectroscopic binary containing O3.5 and O5–5.5 main sequence stars, making for the brightest star visible within the Lagoon Nebula.
μ Columbae is a naked-eye O9.5 main sequence star.
θ1 Orionis C is the brightest star in the Trapezium cluster in the Orion nebula, an O6 main sequence star with a fainter spectroscopic companion.
ζ Ophiuchi is an O9.5 main sequence star, the brightest in the sky at 3rd magnitude.

See also

Star count, survey of stars
Wolf-Rayet stars


Garrison, R. F (1994). "A Hierarchy of Standards for the MK Process". The MK Process at 50 Years. A Powerful Tool for Astrophysical Insight Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series. 60: 3. Bibcode:1994ASPC...60....3G.
Morgan, William Wilson; Keenan, Philip Childs; Kellman, Edith (1943). "An atlas of stellar spectra, with an outline of spectral classification". Chicago.
Johnson, H. L; Morgan, W. W (1953). "Fundamental stellar photometry for standards of spectral type on the revised system of the Yerkes spectral atlas". Astrophysical Journal. 117: 313. Bibcode:1953ApJ...117..313J. doi:10.1086/145697.
Morgan, W. W; Keenan, P. C (1973). "Spectral Classification". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 11: 29–50. Bibcode:1973ARA&A..11...29M. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.11.090173.000333.
Morgan, W. W; Abt, Helmut A; Tapscott, J. W (1978). "Revised MK Spectral Atlas for stars earlier than the sun". Williams Bay: Yerkes Observatory.
Walborn, Nolan R; Fitzpatrick, Edward L (1990). "Contemporary optical spectral classification of the OB stars - A digital atlas". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 102: 379. Bibcode:1990PASP..102..379W. doi:10.1086/132646.
Walborn, Nolan R; Howarth, Ian D; Lennon, Daniel J; Massey, Philip; Oey, M. S; Moffat, Anthony F. J; Skalkowski, Gwen; Morrell, Nidia I; Drissen, Laurent; Parker, Joel Wm (2002). "A New Spectral Classification System for the Earliest O Stars: Definition of Type O2" (PDF). The Astronomical Journal. 123 (5): 2754. Bibcode:2002AJ....123.2754W. doi:10.1086/339831.
"Scientists Begin To Tease Out A Hidden Star's Secrets]". ScienceDaily. July 27, 1998. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
Tables 1 and 4, Fabrice Martins; Daniel Schaerer & D. John Hiller (2005). "A new calibration of stellar parameters of Galactic O stars". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 436 (3): 1049–1065. arXiv:astro-ph/0503346. Bibcode:2005A&A...436.1049M. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20042386. S2CID 39162419.
Table 5, William D. Vacca; Catharine D. Garmany & J. Michael Shull (April 1996). "The Lyman-Continuum Fluxes and Stellar Parameters of O and Early B-Type Stars". Astrophysical Journal. 460: 914–931. Bibcode:1996ApJ...460..914V. doi:10.1086/177020. hdl:2060/19970023476.
Massey, Philip; Bresolin, Fabio; Kudritzki, Rolf P; Puls, Joachim; Pauldrach, A. W. A (2004). "The Physical Properties and Effective Temperature Scale of O-Type Stars as a Function of Metallicity. I. A Sample of 20 Stars in the Magellanic Clouds". The Astrophysical Journal. 608 (2): 1001–1027. arXiv:astro-ph/0402633. Bibcode:2004ApJ...608.1001M. doi:10.1086/420766. S2CID 119373878.

Martins, F (2004). "New atmosphere models for massive stars: Line-blanketing effects and wind properties of O stars". Bibcode:2004PhDT........21M.



Accretion Molecular cloud Bok globule Young stellar object
Protostar Pre-main-sequence Herbig Ae/Be T Tauri FU Orionis Herbig–Haro object Hayashi track Henyey track


Main sequence Red-giant branch Horizontal branch
Red clump Asymptotic giant branch
super-AGB Blue loop Protoplanetary nebula Planetary nebula PG1159 Dredge-up OH/IR Instability strip Luminous blue variable Blue straggler Stellar population Supernova Superluminous supernova / Hypernova

Spectral classification

Early Late Main sequence
O B A F G K M Brown dwarf WR OB Subdwarf
O B Subgiant Giant
Blue Red Yellow Bright giant Supergiant
Blue Red Yellow Hypergiant
Yellow Carbon
S CN CH White dwarf Chemically peculiar
Am Ap/Bp HgMn Helium-weak Barium Extreme helium Lambda Boötis Lead Technetium Be
Shell B[e]


White dwarf
Helium planet Black dwarf Neutron
Radio-quiet Pulsar
Binary X-ray Magnetar Stellar black hole X-ray binary


Blue dwarf Green Black dwarf Exotic
Boson Electroweak Strange Preon Planck Dark Dark-energy Quark Q Black Gravastar Frozen Quasi-star Thorne–Żytkow object Iron Blitzar

Stellar nucleosynthesis

Deuterium burning Lithium burning Proton–proton chain CNO cycle Helium flash Triple-alpha process Alpha process Carbon burning Neon burning Oxygen burning Silicon burning S-process R-process Fusor Nova
Symbiotic Remnant Luminous red nova


Core Convection zone
Microturbulence Oscillations Radiation zone Atmosphere
Photosphere Starspot Chromosphere Stellar corona Stellar wind
Bubble Bipolar outflow Accretion disk Asteroseismology
Helioseismology Eddington luminosity Kelvin–Helmholtz mechanism


Designation Dynamics Effective temperature Luminosity Kinematics Magnetic field Absolute magnitude Mass Metallicity Rotation Starlight Variable Photometric system Color index Hertzsprung–Russell diagram Color–color diagram

Star systems

Contact Common envelope Eclipsing Symbiotic Multiple Cluster
Open Globular Super Planetary system


Solar System Sunlight Pole star Circumpolar Constellation Asterism Magnitude
Apparent Extinction Photographic Radial velocity Proper motion Parallax Photometric-standard


Proper names
Arabic Chinese Extremes Most massive Highest temperature Lowest temperature Largest volume Smallest volume Brightest
Historical Most luminous Nearest
Nearest bright With exoplanets Brown dwarfs White dwarfs Milky Way novae Supernovae
Candidates Remnants Planetary nebulae Timeline of stellar astronomy

Related articles

Substellar object
Brown dwarf Sub-brown dwarf Planet Galactic year Galaxy Guest Gravity Intergalactic Planet-hosting stars Tidal disruption event

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