Stability of metal-rich very massive stars

J. Goodman, Christopher J. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We revisit the stability of very massive non-rotating main-sequence stars at solar metallicity, with the goal of understanding whether radial pulsations set a physical upper limit to stellar mass. Models of up to 938 solar masses are constructed with the MESA code, and their linear stability in the fundamental mode, assumed to be the most dangerous, is analysed with a fully non-adiabatic method. Models above 100M have extended tenuous atmospheres ('shelves') that affect the stability of the fundamental. Even when positive, this growth rate is small, in agreement with previous results. We argue that small growth rates lead to saturation at small amplitudes that are not dangerous to the star. A mechanism for saturation is demonstrated involving non-linear parametric coupling to short-wavelength g-modes and the damping of the latter by radiative diffusion. The shelves are subject to much more rapidly growing strange modes. This also agrees with previous results but is extended here to higher masses. The strange modes probably saturate via shocks rather than mode coupling but have very small amplitudes in the core, where almost all of the stellarmass resides. Although our stellarmodels are hydrostatic, the structure of their outer parts suggests that optically thick winds, driven by some combination of radiation pressure, transonic convection, and strange modes, are more likely than pulsation in the fundamental mode to limit the main-sequence lifetime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-537
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 11 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Asteroseismology
  • Instabilities
  • Stars: massive


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