An OH/IR star is an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) or a red supergiant or hypergiant (RSG or RHG) star that shows strong OH maser emission and is unusually bright at near-infrared wavelengths.

In the very late stages of AGB evolution, a star develops a super-wind with extreme mass loss. The gas in the stellar wind condenses as it cools away from the star, forming molecules such as water (H2O) and silicon monoxide (SiO). This can form grains of dust, mostly silicates, which obscure the star at shorter wavelengths, leading to a strong infrared source.[1] Hydroxyl (OH) radicals can be produced by photodissociation or collisional dissociation.[2]

H2O and OH can both be pumped to produce maser emission. OH masers in particular can give rise to a powerful maser action at 1612 MHz and this is regarded as a defining feature of the OH/IR stars. Many other AGB stars such as Mira variables show weaker OH masers at other wavelengths, such as 1667MHz or 22MHz.[3]
OH/IR stars

R Aquilae
HD 328913
UX Pictoris
AU Cygni
T Comae Berenices
SS Puppis

OH/IR supergiants

VY Canis Majoris
NML Cygni
S Persei
VX Sagittarii
HD 143183
IRAS 05280-6910
MY Cephei


Kemper, F.; De Koter, A.; Waters, L. B. F. M.; Bouwman, J.; Tielens, A. G. G. M. (2002). "Dust and the spectral energy distribution of the OH/IR star OH 127.8+0.0: Evidence for circumstellar metallic iron". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 384 (2): 585. arXiv:astro-ph/0201128. Bibcode:2002A&A...384..585K. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020036. S2CID 17649812.
Goldreich, P.; Scoville, N. (1976). "OH-IR stars. I - Physical properties of circumstellar envelopes" (PDF). Astrophysical Journal. 205: 144. Bibcode:1976ApJ...205..144G. doi:10.1086/154257.

Lewis, B. M. (2002). "On Dead OH/IR Stars". The Astrophysical Journal. 576 (1): 445–449. Bibcode:2002ApJ...576..445L. doi:10.1086/341534.



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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