The remarkable deaths of 9-11 solar mass stars

S E Woosley, A Heger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

147 Citations (Scopus)


The post-helium-burning evolution of stars from 7 M to 11 M is complicated by the lingering effects of degeneracy and off-center ignition. Here, stars in this mass range are studied using a standard set of stellar physics. Two important aspects of the study are the direct coupling of a reaction network of roughly 220 nuclei to the structure calculation at all stages and the use of a subgrid model to describe the convective bounded flame that develops during neon and oxygen burning. Below 9.0 M degenerate oxygen-neon cores form that may become either white dwarfs or electron-capture supernovae. Above 10.3 M the evolution proceeds "normally" to iron-core collapse, without composition inversions or degenerate flashes. Emphasis here is upon the stars in between, which typically ignite oxygen burning off-center. After oxygen burns in a convectively bounded flame, silicon burning ignites in a degenerate flash that commences closer to the stellar center and with increasing violence for stars of larger mass. In some cases the silicon flash is so violent that it could lead to the early ejection of the hydrogen envelope. This might have interesting observable consequences. For example, the death of a 10.0 M⊙ star could produce two supernova-like displays, a faint low-energy event due to the silicon flash, and an unusually bright supernova many months later as the low-energy ejecta from core collapse collides with the previously ejected envelope. The potential relation to the Crab supernova is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis
  • abundances
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: massive
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (Crab)

Cite this