A K-type main-sequence star, also referred to as a K dwarf or orange dwarf, is a main-sequence (hydrogen-burning) star of spectral type K and luminosity class V. These stars are intermediate in size between red M-type main-sequence stars ("red dwarfs") and yellow G-type main-sequence stars. They have masses between 0.5 and 0.8 times the mass of the Sun[1] and surface temperatures between 3,900 and 5,200 K.[2] These stars are of particular interest in the search for extraterrestrial life. Well-known examples include Alpha Centauri B (K1 V) and Epsilon Indi (K5 V).[3]

Spectral standard stars

The revised Yerkes Atlas system (Johnson & Morgan 1953)[4] listed 12 K-type dwarf spectral standard stars, however not all of these have survived to this day as standards. The "anchor points" of the MK classification system among the K-type main-sequence dwarf stars, i.e. those standard stars that have remain unchanged over the years, are:[5]

Sigma Draconis (K0 V)
Epsilon Eridani (K2 V)
61 Cygni A (K5 V)

Other primary MK standard stars include:[6]

70 Ophiuchi A (K0 V),
107 Piscium (K1 V)
HD 219134 (K3 V)
TW Piscis Austrini (K4 V)
HD 120467 (K6 V)
61 Cygni B (K7 V)

Based on the example set in some references (e.g. Johnson & Morgan 1953,[7] Keenan & McNeil 1989[6]), many authors consider the step between K7 V and M0 V to be a single subdivision, and the K8 and K9 classifications are rarely seen. A few examples such as HIP 111288 (K8V) and HIP 3261 (K9V) have been defined and used.[8]

These stars are of particular interest in the search for extraterrestrial life[9] because they are stable on the main sequence for a very long time (18 to 34 billion years, compared to 10 billion for the Sun).[9] Like M-type stars, they tend to have a very small mass, leading to their extremely long lifespan that offers plenty of time for life to develop on orbiting Earth-like, terrestrial planets. In addition, K-type stars emit less ultraviolet radiation (which can damage DNA and thus hamper the emergence of nucleic acid based life) than G-type stars like the Sun. In fact, many peak in the red.[10] K-type main-sequence stars are also about three to four times as abundant as G-type main-sequence stars, making planet searches easier.[11] While M-type stars are also very abundant, they are more likely to have tidally locked planets in orbit and are more prone to produce solar flares that would more easily strike nearby rocky planets, making it much harder for life to develop. Due to their greater heat, the habitable zones of K-type stars are also much wider than those of M-type stars. For all of these reasons, they may be the most favorable stars to focus on in the search for exoplanets and extraterrestrial life.

Some of the nearest K-type stars known to have planets include Epsilon Eridani, HD 192310, Gliese 86, and 54 Piscium.
See also

Solar analog
Red dwarf
Stellar classification, Class K
Star count, survey of stars
Habitability of K-type main-sequence star systems


E. Mamajek (2011). "A Modern Mean Stellar Color and Effective Temperatures (Teff) # Sequence for O9V-Y0V Dwarf Stars". Retrieved 2019-06-05.
Habets, G. M. H. J.; Heintze, J. R. W. (1981). "Empirical bolometric corrections for the main-sequence". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series. 46: 193. Bibcode:1981A&AS...46..193H.Tables VII, VIII
"Alpha Centauri B". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
Johnson, H. L.; Morgan, W. W. (1953). "Fundamental stellar photometry for standards of spectral type on the Revised System of the Yerkes Spectral Atlas". The Astrophysical Journal. 117: 313. Bibcode:1953ApJ...117..313J. doi:10.1086/145697.
Robert F. Garrison. "MK ANCHOR POINTS". Retrieved 2019-06-05.
Keenan, Philip C.; McNeil, Raymond C. (1989). "The Perkins Catalog of Revised MK Types for the Cooler Stars". The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 71: 245. Bibcode:1989ApJS...71..245K. doi:10.1086/191373.
Johnson, H. L.; Morgan, W. W. (1953). "Fundamental stellar photometry for standards of spectral type on the Revised System of the Yerkes Spectral Atlas". The Astrophysical Journal. 117: 313. Bibcode:1953ApJ...117..313J. doi:10.1086/145697.
Pecaut, Mark J.; Mamajek, Eric E. (2013). "Intrinsic Colors, Temperatures, and Bolometric Corrections of Pre-main-sequence Stars". The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 208 (1): 9. arXiv:1307.2657. Bibcode:2013ApJS..208....9P. doi:10.1088/0067-0049/208/1/9. S2CID 119308564.
David Shiga (May 6, 2009). "Orange stars are just right for life". New Scientist. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
Charles Q. Choi (Mar 14, 2014). "Super-Habitable World May Exist Near Earth". Retrieved 2019-06-05.

"Orange stars are just right for life". May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2019-06-05.



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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