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Properties of Oxygen Sequence Wolf-Rayet Stars

22 Jul 2015, 23:00 UTC
Properties of Oxygen Sequence Wolf-Rayet Stars
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Oxygen sequence Wolf-Rayet (WO) stars are some of the rarest stars in the universe. To date, only nine WO stars are known, two of which are in binary systems. WO stars are remarkably hot, with surface temperatures ranging from 150,000 K to 210,000 K. For comparison, the Sun’s surface temperature is only 5,778 K. Core-helium burning is the process where helium in a star’s core undergoes nuclear fusion, leading to the production of oxygen and carbon. WO stars are massive stars that have passed the end of core-helium burning and have shed their outer envelopes through powerful stellar winds to reveal hotter underlying layers. Also, after a massive star exhausts the helium in its core, it naturally contracts and heats up. This is consistent with the high surface temperatures observed for WO stars.WO stars are extremely luminous objects with hundreds of thousands of times the Sun’s luminosity. Despite their extreme luminosities, WO stars are generally smaller in size than the Sun. For example, the WO star WR102 is almost 300,000 times more luminous than the Sun, but its diameter is only 40 percent of the Sun’s. The intensely hot surfaces of WO stars are observed to be enriched with the ...

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