Numerical simulations of continuum-driven winds of super-Eddington stars

A. J. Van Marle, S. P. Owocki, N. J. Shaviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We present the results of numerical simulations of continuum-driven winds of stars that exceed the Eddington limit and compare these against predictions from earlier analytical solutions. Our models are based on the assumption that the stellar atmosphere consists of clumped matter, where the individual clumps have a much larger optical thickness than the matter between the clumps. This 'porosity' of the stellar atmosphere reduces the coupling between radiation and matter, since photons tend to escape through the more tenuous gas between the clumps. This allows a star that formally exceeds the Eddington limit to remain stable, yet produce a steady outflow from the region where the clumps become optically thin. We have made a parameter study of wind models for a variety of input conditions in order to explore the properties of continuum-driven winds. The results show that the numerical simulations reproduce quite closely the analytical scalings. The mass-loss rates produced in our models are much larger than can be achieved by line driving. This makes continuum driving a good mechanism to explain the large mass-loss and flow speeds of giant outbursts, as observed in η Carinae and other luminous blue variable stars. Continuum driving may also be important in population III stars, since line driving becomes ineffective at low metallicities. We also explore the effect of photon tiring and the limits it places on the wind parameters.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1353-1359
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stars: mass-loss
  • Stars: winds, outflows


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