Stars at the Edge of Stability

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Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2430-2431
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5462.2430

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The most massive stars known in the universe may erupt to form so-called luminous blue variables (LBVs). LBVs may hold clues for the formation of massive black holes and gamma ray bursts, and understanding the eruption mechanism is therefore important. As Langer explains in this Perspective, the eruption may be caused by inherent instabilities caused by the enormous luminosity of the parent star. Alternatively, a companion star may be the cause of the eruption. Current evidence supports the former mechanism.