Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso

Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) Star

  • Nikos PrantzosEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_125


An asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star is a low or intermediate mass star (of mass M<8 M) at a late evolutionary phase in its life, during which it appears as a red giant in the  Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. After the star has exhausted the supply of He for fusion in its core, it draws energy from He fusion in a shell around the inert carbon-oxygen core, in the early AGB (E-AGB) phase. Later, the star enters the thermally pulsing (TP-AGB) phase, with intermittent burning (fusion) of the hydrogen and He-shells. The thermal pulses occur in timescales of 104–105 years. They mix material from the burning shells to the convective envelope (the 3d dredge-up) and they also induce heavy mass loss from the star (more than 50% of its mass), creating a  Planetary Nebula.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut d'Astrophysique de ParisParisFrance