Nucleosynthesis of pair-instability supernovae

Alexander Heger, Stan Woosley

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The first generation of stars to form in the universe may have been very massive, and, due to the absence of initial metals, they could have retained most of their mass until their death and thus explode as pair instability supernovae. These supernovae encounter the late burning phases beyond carbon burning in an implosive/explosive way, leading to very powerful thermonuclear-powered explosions, up to a hundred times more powerful than ordinary supernovae. For primordial stars, these explosions also produce a peculiar abundance pattern, showing a strong odd-even pattern in the elemental abundances, a sharp drop-off of nucleosynthetic production beyond the iron group, and no r-process contribution. These results are greatly altered if only a small mass of 14N is dredged down into the helium burning core before the star becomes unstable. Such mixing could be a consequence of differential rotation or convective overshooting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS228
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Nucleosynthesis
  • Stars: supernovae

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