The True origin of Wolf-Rayet stars

Jorick S. Vink

Armagh Observatory

The Wolf-Rayet (WR) phenomenon is widespread in astronomy. It involves classical WRs, very massive stars (VMS), WR central stars of planetary nebula CSPN [WRs], and supernovae (SNe). But what is the root cause for a certain type of object to turn into an emission-line star? In this contribution, I discuss the basic aspects of radiation driven winds that might reveal the ultimate difference between WR stars and canonical O-type stars. I discuss the aspects of (i) self-enrichment via CNO elements, (ii) high effective temperatures (Teff), (iii) an increase in the helium abundance (Y), and finally (iv) the Eddington factor Gamma. Over the last couple of years, we have made a breakthrough in our understanding of Gamma-dependent mass loss, which will have far-reaching consequences for the evolution and fate of the most massive stars in the Universe. Finally, I discuss the prospects for studies of the WR phenomenon in the highest redshift Ly-alpha and He II emitting galaxies.

Reference: To appear in proceedings of International Workshop on Wolf-Rayet Stars (editors W.R. Hamann, A. Sander, and H. Todt) publisher Universitatsverlag Potsdam
Status: Conference proceedings

Weblink: astro-ph/1366754