The Mysteries and Inner Workings of Massive Stars

Coordinators: Natasha Ivanova, Nathan Smith, and Rich Townsend

Scientific Advisors: Selma de Mink, Stephen Justham, and Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz

Massive stars are crucial for diverse fields across astrophysics: they severely impact their surrounding environments throughout their entire lives, through the radiation and winds that they generate, the elements that they synthesize and eject, and their energetically explosive deaths.  This program will address unsolved issues with regard to the evolution and fate of massive stars and their impact on other astrophysical problems. 

Massive stars are a rich site of fascinating and challenging physical problems, including convection, rotation-driven mixing and angular momentum transport, waves and extreme winds, envelope instabilities and eruptions, and both dynamic and secular mass exchanges with binary companions. This bonanza of physical puzzles is closely linked with trying to understand compact object formation in supernovae and the wide diversity of observed massive-star transients, such as long-duration gamma-ray bursts, superluminous supernovae, luminous blue variables,  and luminous red novae. The physics involved is intrinsically multi-dimensional, and we will discuss how to best take advantage of developments in three-dimensional stellar modeling. Given recent observational clues that challenge conventional wisdom about massive stars, the expectation of immense quantities of data from future surveys becoming available by the time of the workshop (e.g., GAIA and transient surveys), and advances in one-dimensional and three-dimensional stellar modeling, we expect this workshop to lead to significant improvements in our understanding of many of the short- and long-term phenomena displayed during their luminous lives and extraordinary ends.