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Colloquium Speaker

Selma de Mink

Title: The Evolution of Massive Stars towards their Death: Rotation, Binarity and Mergers

Astronomy Spring Colloquia March 20, 2012 Tuesday, 4:30pm-5:30pm, Peyton Hall auditorium:


Although they are rare and short-lived, massive stars play a major role in Universe. With their large luminosities, strong stellar winds and spectacular explosions they act as cosmic engines, heating and enriching their surroundings, where the next generation of stars are forming. 

The latest stellar evolutionary models show that rotation can have drastic effects, which has been suggested as a evolutionary path for the progenitors of long gamma-ray bursts. I will discuss the recent efforts of theorists and observers to understand the effects of rotation including some highlights of the ongoing "VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey of Massive Stars". 

A further challenge arises from the preference of massive stars to come in close pairs. Interaction with a companion leads to spectacular phenomena such as runaways, X-ray binaries and stellar mergers. I will present new results on the true close binary fraction for massive stars, which imply that only a minority evolve undisturbed towards their death.