The deaths of very massive stars

Stanford E Woosley, Alexander Heger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The theory underlying the evolution and death of stars heavier than 10 M⊙ on the main sequence is reviewed with an emphasis upon stars much heavier than 30 M⊙. These are stars that, in the absence of substantial mass loss, are expected to either produce black holes when they die, or, for helium cores heavier than about 35 M⊙, encounter the pair instability. A wide variety of outcomes is possible depending upon the initial composition of the star, its rotation rate, and the physics used to model its evolution. These stars can produce some of the brightest supernovae in the universe, but also some of the faintest. They can make gamma-ray bursts or collapse without a whimper. Their nucleosynthesis can range from just CNO to a broad range of elements up to the iron group. Though rare nowadays, they probably played a disproportionate role in shaping the evolution of the universe following the formation of its first stars.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVery Massive Stars in the Local Universe
EditorsJorick S Vink
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783319095967
ISBN (Print)9783319095950
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this