Super-Eddington stellar winds: Unifying radiative-enthalpy versus flux-driven models

Stanley P. Owocki, Richard H.D. Townsend, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We derive semi-analytic solutions for optically thick, super-Eddington stellar winds, induced by an assumed steady energy addition ΔE˙ concentrated around a near-surface heating radius R in a massive star of central luminosity L*. We show that obtaining steady wind solutions requires both that the resulting total luminosity Lo = L* + ΔE˙ exceed the Eddington luminosity, Γo ≡ Lo/LEdd > 1, and that the induced mass-loss rate be such that the 'photon-tiring' parameter, m ≡ M˙ GM/RLo ≤ 1 - 1/Γo, ensuring the luminosity is sufficient to overcome the gravitational potential GM/R. Our analysis unifies previous super-Eddington wind models that either: (1) assumed a direct radiative flux-driving without accounting for the advection of radiative enthalpy that can become important in such an optically thick flow; or (2) assumed that such super-Eddington outflows are adiabatic, neglecting the effects of the diffusive radiative flux. We show that these distinct models become applicable in the asymptotic limits of small versus large values of mΓo, respectively. By solving the coupled differential equations for radiative diffusion and wind momentum, we obtain general solutions that effectively bridge the behaviours of these limiting models. Two key scaling results are for the terminal wind speed to escape speed, which is found to vary as v2 /vesc2 = Γo/(1 + mΓo) - 1, and for the final observed luminosity Lobs, which for all allowed steady-solutions with m < 1 - 1/Γo exceeds the Eddington luminosity, Lobs > LEdd. Our super-Eddington wind solutions have potential applicability for modelling phases of eruptive mass-loss from massive stars, classical novae, and the remnants of stellar mergers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3749-3760
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Outflows
  • Stars: early-type
  • Stars: mass loss
  • Stars: winds
  • Supernovae: general


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