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Let there be light, and then black holes — 2 Comments

  1. Interesting stuff. My students find fascinating anything related to black holes. So, can you give more details on the upper limits of star mass? This is not my area of expertise, but I imagine that while both the luminosity and the gravity of a star grows with mass, the luminosity must grow faster, to the point where a super-massive star just can’t hold all of itself together? So it sheds off excess mass and becomes a little less “super-massive”?

    • Yes, that is exactly right! As a star grows in mass it also increases in luminosity. Beyond a certain point, photons being created in the core of the star at a maddeningly-fast rate impart momentum on the outer layers of the star. These more loosely-held outer layers and literally blown away by the persistent rush of photons. This seems to happen in a way that regulates the total mass of a star to be around 150 solar masses. Thanks for the post!

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