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Very massive stars (VMS) dominate the physics of young clusters due to their extreme stellar winds. The mass lost by these stars in their winds determine their evolution, chemical yields and their end fates. In this contribution we study the main-sequence evolution of VMS with a new mass-loss recipe that switches from optically-thin O star winds to optically-thick Wolf-Rayet type winds through the model independent transition mass loss.
The link between hot and cool stellar outflows is shown to be critical for correctly predicting the masses of the most massive black holes (BHs) below the so-called pair-instability supernova (PISN) mass gap. Gravitational Wave (GW) event 190521 allegedly hosted an “impossibly” heavy BH of 85 M⊙. Here we show how our increased knowledge of both metallicity Z and temperature dependent mass loss is critical for our evolutionary scenario of a low-Z blue supergiant (BSG) progenitor of an initially approx 100 M⊙ star to work. We show using MESA stellar evolution modelling experiments that as long as we can keep such stars above 8000 K such low-Z BSGs can avoid strong winds, and keep a very large envelope mass intact before core collapse. This naturally leads to the Cosmic Time dependent maximum BH function below the PISN gap.
Classical Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars mark an important stage in the late evolution of massive stars. As hydrogen-poor massive stars, these objects have lost their outer layers, while still losing further mass through strong winds indicated by their prominent emission line spectra. Wolf-Rayet stars have been detected in a variety of different galaxies. Their strong winds are a major ingredient of stellar evolution and population synthesis models. Yet, a coherent theoretical picture of their strong mass-loss is only starting to emerge. In particular, the occurrence of WR stars as a function of metallicity (Z) is still far from being understood.
To uncover the nature of the complex and dense winds of Wolf-Rayet stars, we employ a new generation of model atmospheres including a consistent solution of the wind hydrodynamics in an expanding non-LTE situation. With this technique, we can dissect the ingredients driving the wind and predict the resulting mass-loss for hydrogen-depleted massive stars. Our modelling efforts reveal a complex picture with strong, non-linear dependencies on the luminosity-to-mass ratio and Z with a steep, but not totally abrupt onset for WR-type winds in helium stars. With our findings, we provide a theoretical motivation for a population of helium stars at low Z, which cannot be detected via WR-type spectral features. Our study of massive He-star atmosphere models yields the very first mass-loss recipe derived from first principles in this regime. Implementing our first findings in stellar evolution models, we demonstrate how traditional approaches tend to overpredict WR-type mass loss in the young Universe.
Massive star evolution is dominated by key physical processes such as mass loss, convection and rotation, yet these effects are poorly constrained, even on the main sequence. We utilise a detached, eclipsing binary HD166734 as a testbed for single star evolution to calibrate new MESA stellar evolution grids. We introduce a novel method of comparing theoretical models with observations in the ‘Mass-Luminosity Plane’, as an equivalent to the HRD (see Higgins & Vink 2018). We reproduce stellar parameters and abundances of HD166734 with enhanced overshooting (αov=0.5), mass loss and rotational mixing. When comparing the constraints of our testbed to the systematic grid of models we find that a higher value of αov=0.5 (rather than αov=0.1) results in a solution which is more likely to evolve to a neutron star than a black hole, due to a lower value of the compactness parameter.
One of the largest surprises from the LIGO results regarding the first gravitational wave detection (GW 150914) was the fact the black holes (BHs) were “heavy”, of order 30 - 40 Mȯ. The most promising explanation for this obesity is that the BH-BH merger occurred at low metallicity (Z): when the iron (Fe) contents is lower this is expected to result in weaker mass loss during the Wolf-Rayet (WR) phase. We therefore critically evaluate the claims for the reasons of heavy BHs as a function of Z in the literature. Furthermore, weaker stellar winds might lead to more rapid stellar rotation, allowing WR and BH progenitor evolution in a chemically homogeneous manner. However, there is as yet no empirical evidence for more rapid rotation amongst WR stars in the low Z environment of the Magellanic Clouds. Due to the intrinsic challenge of determining WR rotation rates from emission lines, the most promising avenue to constrain rotation-rate distributions amongst various WR subgroups is through the utilisation of their emission lines in polarised light. We thus provide an overview of linear spectro-polarimetry observations of both single and binary WRs in the Galaxy, as well as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, at 50% and 20% of solar Z, respectively. Initial results suggest that the route of chemically homogeneous evolution (CHE) through stellar rotation is challenging, whilst the alternative of a post-LBV or common envelope evolution is more likely.
We present a number of notable results from the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS), an ESO Large Program during which we obtained multi-epoch medium-resolution optical spectroscopy of a very large sample of over 800 massive stars in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This unprecedented data-set has enabled us to address some key questions regarding atmospheres and winds, as well as the evolution of (very) massive stars. Here we focus on O-type runaways, the width of the main sequence, and the mass-loss rates for (very) massive stars. We also provide indications for the presence of a top-heavy initial mass function (IMF) in 30 Dor.
We discuss the role of linear emission-line polarimetry in a wide set of stellar environments, involving the accretion disks around young pre-main sequence stars, to the aspherical outflows from O stars, luminous blue variables and Wolf-Rayet stars, just prior to explosion as a supernova or a gamma-ray burst. We predict subtle QU line signatures, such as single/double QU loops for un/disrupted disks. Whilst there is plenty of evidence for single QU loops, suggesting the presence of disrupted disks around young stars, current sensitivity (with S/N of order 1000) is typically not sufficient to allow for quantitative 3D Monte Carlo modeling. However, the detection of our predicted signatures is expected to become feasible with the massive improvement in sensitivity of extremely large mirrors.
Various theories have been proposed to predict how mass loss depends on the stellar rotation rate, both in terms of its strength, as well as its latitudinal dependence, crucial for our understanding of angular momentum evolution. Here we discuss the tool of linear spectropolarimetry that can probe the difference between mass loss from the pole versus the equator. Our results involve several groups of O stars and Wolf-Rayet stars, involving Oe stars, Of?p stars, Onfp stars, as well as the best candidate gamma-ray burst progenitors identified to date.
Recent studies have claimed the existence of very massive stars (VMS) up to 300 M⊙ in the local Universe. As this finding may represent a paradigm shift for the canonical stellar upper-mass limit of 150 M⊙, it is timely to discuss the status of the data, as well as the far-reaching implications of such objects. We held a Joint Discussion at the General Assembly in Beijing to discuss (i) the determination of the current masses of the most massive stars, (ii) the formation of VMS, (iii) their mass loss, and (iv) their evolution and final fate. The prime aim was to reach broad consensus between observers and theorists on how to identify and quantify the dominant physical processes.
The fate of massive stars up to 300M⊙ is highly uncertain. Do these objects produce pair-instability explosions, or normal Type Ic supernovae? In order to address these questions, we need to know their mass-loss rates during their lives. Here we present mass-loss predictions for very massive stars (VMS) in the range of 60-300M⊙. We use a novel method that simultaneously predicts the wind terminal velocities v∞ and mass-loss rate Ṁ as a function of the stellar parameters: (i) luminosity/mass Γ, (ii) metallicity Z, and (iii) effective temperature Teff. Using our results, we evaluate the likely outcomes for the most massive stars.
The Magnetism in Massive Stars (MiMeS) Project is a consensus collaboration among many of the foremost international researchers of the physics of hot, massive stars, with the basic aim of understanding the origin, evolution and impact of magnetic fields in these objects. At the time of writing, MiMeS Large Programs have acquired over 950 high-resolution polarised spectra of about 150 individual stars with spectral types from B5-O4, discovering new magnetic fields in a dozen hot, massive stars. The quality of this spectral and magnetic matériel is very high, and the Collaboration is keen to connect with colleagues capable of exploiting the data in new or unforeseen ways. In this paper we review the structure of the MiMeS observing programs and report the status of observations, data modeling and development of related theory.
In this poster we present the results of our analyses of three early massive stars in IC 1613, whose spectra have been observed with VIMOS and analyzed with CMFGEN and FASTWIND. One of the targets resulted a possible LBV and the other two are Of stars with unexpectedly strong winds. The Of stars seem to be strongly contaminated by CNO products. Our preliminary results may represent a challenge for the theory of stellar atmospheres, but they still have to be confirmed by the analysis of more objects and a more complete coverage of the parameter space.
The Tarantula Survey is an ESO Large Programme which has obtained multi-epoch spectroscopy of over 1,000 massive stars in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The assembled consortium will exploit these data to address a range of fundamental questions in both stellar and cluster evolution.
We discuss the role of mass loss for the evolution of the most massive stars, highlighting the role of the predicted bi-stability jump that might be relevant for the evolution of rotational velocities during or just after the main sequence. This mechanism is also proposed as an explanation for the mass-loss variations seen in the winds from Luminous Blue Variables (LBVs). These might be relevant for the quasi-sinusoidal modulations seen in a number of recent transitional supernovae (SNe), as well as for the double-throughed absorption profile recently discovered in the Hα line of SN 2005gj. Finally, we discuss the role of metallicity via the Z-dependent character of their winds, during both the initial and final (Wolf-Rayet) phases of evolution, with implications for the angular momentum evolution of the progenitor stars of long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).
We present radiation-driven wind models for Luminous Blue Variables and predictions of their mass-loss rates. A comparison between our theoretical results and observations of AG Car shows that the variable mass loss behaviour of LBVs is due the recombination/ionisation of Fe iv/iii and Fe iii/ii. A present-day mass of 35 M⊙ for AG Car is derived.
We show that the stellar masses implied by our predictions of the wind properties of massive stars are in agreement with masses derived from evolution theory and from direct measurements using spectroscopic binaries, contrary to previous attempts to derive masses from wind theory.
We discuss the evidence for the existence of bi-stable stellar winds of early type stars, both theoretically and observationally. The ratio between the terminal wind velocity and the escape velocity drops steeply from about 2.6 for stars with Teff > 21 000 K to about 1.3 at Teff < 21 000 K. This is the bi-stability jump, which is due to a change in the ionization of the wind and in the wind driving lines. The mass loss rate increases across the jump by about a factor 2 to 5 from the hotter to the cooler stars. The mass flux from rapidly rotating stars can also show the bi-stability jump at some lattitude between the pole and the equator, with a slow high density wind in the equatorial region and a faster low density wind from the poles. This might explain the disks of rapidly rotating B[e] stars, formed by the Rotation Induced Bi-stability mechanism. We discuss the RIB mechanism and its properties. We also describe some future improvements of the model.
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