On the maximum mass of accreting primordial supermassive stars

T. E. Woods, Alexander Heger, Daniel J. Whalen, Lionel Haemmerle, Ralf S. Klessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Downloads (Pure)


Supermassive primordial stars are suspected to be the progenitors of the most massive quasars at z ~ 6. Previous studies of such stars were either unable to resolve hydrodynamical timescales or considered stars in isolation, not in the extreme accretion flows in which they actually form. Therefore, they could not self-consistently predict their final masses at collapse, or those of the resulting supermassive black hole seeds, but rather invoked comparison to simple polytropic models. Here, we systematically examine the birth, evolution, and collapse of accreting, non-rotating supermassive stars under accretion rates of 0.01–10 M yr−1 using the stellar evolution code Kepler. Our approach includes post-Newtonian corrections to the stellar structure and an adaptive nuclear network and can transition to following the hydrodynamic evolution of supermassive stars after they encounter the general relativistic instability. We find that this instability triggers the collapse of the star at masses of 150,000–330,000 M for accretion rates of 0.1–10 M yr−1, and that the final mass of the star scales roughly logarithmically with the rate. The structure of the star, and thus its stability against collapse, is sensitive to the treatment of convection and the heat content of the outer accreted envelope. Comparison with other codes suggests differences here may lead to small deviations in the evolutionary state of the star as a function of time, that worsen with accretion rate. Since the general relativistic instability leads to the immediate death of these stars, our models place an upper limit on the masses of the first quasars at birth.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL6
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2017


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.CO
  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.HE
  • cosmology: theory
  • dark ages
  • reionization
  • first stars
  • early universe
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • stars: massive
  • stars: Population III


Dive into the research topics of 'On the maximum mass of accreting primordial supermassive stars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this