Spectral Types Stars are divided into groups called spectral types (also called spectral classes ) which are based on the strength of the hydrogen absorption lines. The A-type stars have the strongest (darkest) hydrogen lines, B-type next strongest, F-type next, etc. Originally there was the whole alphabet of types, based on hydrogen line strengths, but then astronomers discovered that the line strengths depended on the temperature. Also, the discussion in the previous section and the figure above show that more than just the hydrogen lines must be used because a very hot star and a cool star can have the same hydrogen lines strength. The presence of other atomic or ion lines are used in conjunction with the hydrogen spectrum to determine the particular temperature of the star. After some rearranging and merging of some classes, the spectral type sequence is now OBAFGKM when ordered by temperature. The O-type stars are the hottest stars and the M-type stars are the coolest. Each spectral type is subdivided into 10 intervals, e.g., G2 or F5, with 0
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This note was uploaded on 12/15/2011 for the course AST AST1002 taught by Professor Emilyhoward during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.