Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2012
It has been theoretically predicted many decades ago that extremely massive stars that develop large oxygen cores will become dynamically unstable, due to electron-positron pair production. The collapse of such oxygen cores leads to powerful thermonuclear explosions that unbind the star and can produce, in some cases, many solar masses of radioactive 56Ni. For many years, no examples of this process were observed in nature. Here, I briefly review recent observations of luminous supernovae that likely result from pair-instability explosions, in the nearby and distant Universe.
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