Modelling luminous-blue-variable isolation

Mojgan Aghakhanloo, Jeremiah W. Murphy, Nathan Smith, Renée Hložek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Observations show that luminous blue variables (LBVs) are far more dispersed than massive O-type stars, and Smith & Tombleson suggested that these large separations are inconsistent with a single-star evolution model of LBVs. Instead, they suggested that the large distances are most consistent with binary evolution scenarios. To test these suggestions, we modelled young stellar clusters and their passive dissolution, and we find that, indeed, the standard single-star evolution model is mostly inconsistent with the observed LBV environments. If LBVs are single stars, then the lifetimes inferred from their luminosity and mass are far too short to be consistent with their extreme isolation. This implies that there is either an inconsistency in the luminosity-to-mass mapping or the mass-to-age mapping. In this paper, we explore binary solutions that modify the mass-to-age mapping and are consistent with the isolation of LBVs. For the binary scenarios, our crude models suggest that LBVs are rejuvenated stars. They are either the result of mergers or they are mass gainers and received a kick when the primary star exploded. In the merger scenario, if the primary is about 19 M, then the binary has enough time to wander far afield, merge and form a rejuvenated star. In the mass-gainer and kick scenario, we find that LBV isolation is consistent with a wide range of kick velocities, anywhere from 0 to ~105 km s-1. In either scenario, binarity seems to play a major role in the isolation of LBVs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-603
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Binaries: general
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: massive
  • Stars: variables: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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