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Evolution of Wolf-Rayet stars as black hole progenitors

Higgins, E R; Sander, A A C; Vink, J S; Hirschi, R

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E R Higgins

A A C Sander

J S Vink


Evolved Wolf-Rayet stars form a key aspect of massive star evolution, and their strong outflows determine their final fates. In this study, we calculate grids of stellar models for a wide range of initial masses at five metallicities (ranging from solar down to just 2 per cent solar). We compare a recent hydrodynamically consistent wind prescription with two earlier frequently used wind recipes in stellar evolution and population synthesis modelling, and we present the ranges of maximum final masses at core He-exhaustion for each wind prescription and metallicity Z. Our model grids reveal qualitative differences in mass-loss behaviour of the wind prescriptions in terms of 'convergence'. Using the prescription from Nugis & Lamers the maximum stellar black hole is found to converge to a value of 20-30 M-circle dot, independent of host metallicity; however, when utilizing the new physically motivated prescription from Sander & Vink there is no convergence to a maximum black hole mass value. The final mass is simply larger for larger initial He-star mass, which implies that the upper black hole limit for He-stars below the pair-instability gap is set by prior evolution with mass loss, or the pair instability itself. Quantitatively, we find the critical Z for pair-instability (Z(PI)) to be as high as 50 per cent Z(circle dot), corresponding to the host metallicity of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Moreover, while the Nugis & Lamers prescription would not predict any black holes above the approx 130 M-circle dot pair-instability limit, with Sander & Vink winds included, we demonstrate a potential channel for very massive helium stars to form such massive black holes at similar to 2 per cent Z(circle dot) or below.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 31, 2021
Online Publication Date May 31, 2021
Publication Date 2021-08
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 505
Issue 4
Pages 4874-4889
Keywords stars: black holes, stars: evolution, stars: massive, stars: mass-loss, stars: Wolf–Rayet
Publisher URL


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