A Workshop on Outstanding Problems in Massive Star Research
-- the final stages
September 30 -- Oct 3, 2012
Current transient surveys are finding SN-like events which are not true supernovae. Some of the "supernova impostors" are suspected to be giant eruptions resembling eta Carinae, possibly related to the Luminous Blue Variables. Meanwhile, the most luminous true supernovae are believed to be explosions into debris formed by previous mass ejections, and two SNae were observed to have outbursts prior to their final events. All these developments emphasize the importance of instabilities and episodic mass loss in the most massive stars, but the mechanisms remain mysterious. Do they involve the outer layers, or the core regions, or both? How do stars above 50 solar masses end their lives? Do they just collapse to black holes? Recent studies confirm that classical Type II SN progenitors have much lower initial masses. Many of the outstanding questions about final stages of very massive stars are primarily theoretical, but observations are scarce, especially of the progenitor class.
This page is a record of this three day topical workshop which brought together theorists and observers studying very massive stars, their instabilities, SNe and their progenitors, and the outcomes of the final eruptions. The emphasis of the workshop was on the final stages of massive star evolution and the unsolved theoretical and observational questions.