A red dwarf
is a small star
on the main sequence
, either late K or M spectral type
. They have a diameter and mass of less than one-third that of the Sun
(down to 0.08 solar masses, which are Brown dwarves
) and a surface temperature of less than 3,500 K. They emit little light, sometimes as little as 1/10,000th that of the sun. Due to the slow rate at which they burn hydrogen
red dwarves have a enormous lifespan, estimates range from a tens of billions up to trillions of years. Red dwarves never initiate helium fusion
and so cannot become red giants
, the stars slowly contract and heat up until all the hydrogen is consumed. In any event, there has not been sufficient time since the big bang
for red dwarfs to evolve off the main sequence.
Red dwarf stars are believed to be the most common star type in the universe. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun is a red dwarf, (Type M5, magnitude 11.0) as are twenty of the next thirty nearest.
See also: Stellar evolution, Cataclysmic variable star, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, Yerkes luminosity classification[?].
There is also a British science fiction
/comedy television series
called Red Dwarf
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