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ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Shape of a Rotating Star


Rapid rotation can cause a star to bulge significantly near its equator. If we assume that
the star is in hydrostatic equilibrium, we can derive the shape of a rotating star.
Consider the case of solid body rotation with angular velocity constant throughout the
star, and assume that density is constant. We will also assume the Roche model, which
assumes that the gravitational potential behaves like a point mass.
For hydrostatic equilibrium, the sum of the forces acting on a mass element must equal the
centripetal acceleration. Note the use of the vector ~, which defines the component of the
position vector perpendicular to the rotation axis.
~ pressure + F
~ gravity = F
~ cent
F

GM m
m ~
P
r = m2~

r2

The gravitational potential is


GM
r
GM
~ =

r
r2
2 = 4G
=

The rotating potential V can be expressed in cylindrical coordinates (with the radial coordinate ~, not the same as density):
1
V = 2 |~|2
2
~
V = 2 ~


1
V
2
V =


1
=
2 2

= 22

ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Since both gravity and rotation can be described as gradients of a potential, the combined
gravitational and rotational forces can be expressed as the gradient of a potential . From
this, we can relate the potential to the pressure gradient and find the effective surface
gravity:
~ =
~ + V
~

GM
= 2 r 2~
r
1 ~
= P

1 ~
~ = ~g eff
P =

This is the equation of hydrostatic equilibrium for solid body rotation. Note that this
~ and
~ are parallel.
relationship implies that P
Taking the curl of this relationship (and noting that the curl of any gradient is always 0):


~
~
~ P
~ =

| {z }
~
~
~
~
=
| {z}
~
~
0 =
~ is parallel to both
~ and P
~ . This implies that the surfaces of constant
Therefore
density, pressure, and potential coincide, and the star is said to be barotropic. If we find
the shape corresponding to constant , then we have found the shape of the rotating star.
The combined gravitational and rotational potential is simply
=+V
1
GM
2 |~|2
=
r
2
GM
1
=
2 r2 sin2
r
2
At the stellar poles, = 0 so
=

GM
= const. over surface
Rpole

We now have a function relating the stellar radius with latitude for a rotating star. The
shape of the surface is described by

GM
GM
1
=
2 R2 sin2
Rpole
R
2
1
1
2 R 2
=

sin2
R()
Rpole 2GM
2

ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Critical Velocities
The classic definition of critical velocity is defined by equating the gravitational force to the
centrifugal force at the stellar equator.
2
GM m
mVcrit
=
2
Req
Req
s
s
GM
2GM
Vcrit =
=
Req
3Rpole

Note that Vcrit is not valid for high mass stars with a high Eddington factor (very luminous
supergiants, Wolf-Rayet stars, and luminous blue variables) since the radiation pressure also
affects ~g eff .
In terms of the critical angular velocity,
Vcrit = crit Req
crit

2Vcrit
Vcrit
=
=
=
Req
3Rpole

2crit =

 3/2
2
3

GM
3
Rpole

!1/2

8 GM
3
27 Rpole

Note that Rpole does not change much at all, even for a rapidly rotating star (see Figure 1).
It is reasonable to use the approximation Rp,crit Rpole for the non-rotating case.
In general, Veq /Vcrit < /crit (see Figure 2).
We can write the shape of the rotating barotropic star in terms of the critical rotation /crit .
Use the substitutions
R

x=
=
crit
Rp,crit
The polynomial describing the shape can be written in terms of the critical rotation:
1
1
2 R2
=

sin2
R()
Rpole 2GM
Rp,crit
Rp,crit 2crit 2 R2 Rp,crit
=

sin2
R
Rpole
2GM
3
8 GM 2 x2 Rp,crit
1
Rp,crit
=

sin2
3
x
Rpole
27 Rpole
2GM
1
Rp,crit
4 2 2 2
=

x sin
x
Rpole
27
Notice that as /crit 1, the equatorial radius Req 1.5 Rpole (see Figure 3).
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ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Figure 1: Variations of Rpole with for standard metallicity Z = 0.02 (Ekstrom et al. 2008,
A&A, 478, 467).

Figure 2: Relationship between Veq /Vcrit and /crit for the Roche model (Meynet 2008,
arXiv:0801.2944v1). The solid line assumes that Rp,crit = Rpole . The dot-dashed lines show
the relations for Z = 0.02 models with 1 M and 60 M .

ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Figure 3: Shape of a rotating star in the Roche model with several values of = /crit .
This plot assumes Rp,crit = Rpole .

Surface Gravity of a Rotating Star


We have shown that the effective potential of the rotating star is
=

1
GM
+ 2 R2 sin2
R
2

The effective surface gravity is


~
~g eff =



1
1
=
r +
+

R
r
r sin




GM
2
2
= 2
+ R() sin r + 2 R() sin cos
R ()
Note that the effective gravity vector is not parallel to the radius vector. The angle between
~g eff and r is
~g eff r = |~g eff ||
r | cos 
~g r
cos  = eff
|~g eff ||
r|
A surface element d on the equipotential of a rotating star is
d =

r2 sin d d
cos 
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ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

The Von Zeipel Theorem


Recall that the flux of a radiative star depends on the temperature gradient within the star
(see Hansen 4.2):
4ac 3 dT
T
F (r) =
3
dr
For a 3-dimensional rotating star, we can express this as
~ (, ) = T
~ (, )
F

4acT 3
3

In the barotropic case (solid body rotation), the equipotentials and isobars also coincide with
a surface of constant T and :
~ (, )
~ (, ) = dT P
F
dP
dT
~g (, )
=
dP eff
dT ~
= +
(, )
dP
The effective potential of the rotating star is
GM
1
2 r2 sin2
r
2
2
2
2
= + V = 4G 22
=+V =

The total luminosity on a surface of equipotential is


Z
~ (, ) d~
L() =
F


Z
dT
~
= +
(,
) d~

dP

|
{z
}
apply divergence theorem

Z
dT
~ (,
~
= +

) dV
dP
V

Z
dT
= +
2 (, ) dV
dP

 ZV
dT
= +
(4G 22 ) dV
dP
 V


dT
2 Mr
= +
4GMr 2
dP
hr i
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ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Thus the proportionality constant is

L()
dT


=
2
dP
4GMr 1 2Ghr i

Using the notation




M = Mr

2
1
2Ghr i

the stellar flux of a rotating star can be written


F (, ) =

L()
~g (, )
4GM eff

The stellar flux is related to the effective temperature according to


4
F = Teff

Thus, the Von Zeipel Theorem states that the temperature over the rotating stars surface

varies according to T geff


, where = 1/4:

Teff (, ) =

1/4
L
geff (, )
4GM

Both geff and Teff vary over the surface of a rotating star. The equatorial regions are fainter
and cooler than the polar regions. This effect is called gravity darkening (see Figure 4).

ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Figure 4: A predicted K-band image of the rapidly rotating star Regulus produced with the
CHARA long-baseline optical interferometer. The best-fit model of spectra with interferometric visibilities finds a gravity darkening exponent = 0.25 0.11, inclination of rotation
axis i = 90 15 , and Veq /Vcrit = 0.86, Tpole = 15400 K, and Teq = 10314 K (McAlister et
al. 2005, ApJ, 628, 439).

Figure 5: (A) Intensity image of the surface of Altair ( = 1.65 m) created using interferometric imaging with four telescopes in the CHARA array. Typical photometric errors in the
image correspond to 4% in intensity. (B) Reconstructed image convolved with a Gaussian
beam of 0.64 mas, corresponding to the diffraction limit of CHARA for these observations.
For both panels, the specific intensities at 1.65 m were converted into the corresponding
blackbody temperatures; contours for 7000, 7500, and 8000 K are shown. From Monnier et
al. (2007, Science, 317, 342).

ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Mass Loss of Rotating Stars


Radiatively driven stellar winds are accelerated away from the stellar surface by the radiation
pressure of the stars luminosity. Because rapidly rotating stars have highly distorted shapes,
the stellar winds are anisotropic due to several competing effects:
1. geff effect: Due to the higher gravity and flux at the poles, the polar mass loss rate
is enhanced, while the equatorial mass loss rate is smaller. This lends to peanutshaped outflows observed in bright stars such as Carinae (see Maeder 2010, Physics,
Formation, and Evolution of Rotating Stars).
2. effect: In a typical stellar photosphere, the opacities are due to more than just
electron scattering. Therefore opacity increases with the lower Teff near the equator.
Higher favors more momentum absorbed by the winds, enhancing the equatorial
mass loss rate.
3. Rotational effect: The higher centripetal force at the equator also enhances the
equatorial mass loss rate.

Shellular Rotation
Instead of rotating as solid bodies, real stars may have differential rotation, so that (r, )
that varies with latitude and radius within the star. An important case is shellular rotation, in which is constant on isobars (surfaces of constant pressure) but not with the
radial coordinate inside the star.
In the case of shellular rotation, the centrifugal force cannot be derived from a potential,
so the shape of the stellar surface is altered. The derived stellar surface is isobaric but not
equipotential and the star is said to be baroclinic. See Maeder (2010, Physics, Formation,
and Evolution of Rotating Stars) for more discussion about shellular rotation.

Rotational Mixing
Due to the increased equatorial radius, a rapidly rotating star begins its life on the main
sequence at a lower effective temperature and luminosity than a non-rotating star of the same
mass. However, as core hydrogen burning continues, shellular rotation causes meridional
circulation. This mixing enriches the helium and nitrogen abundances in the envelope,
the opacity decreases, and the star becomes overluminous for its mass. At the same time,
rotational mixing replenishes the hydrogen core and extends the main sequence lifetime (e.g.
Meynet & Maeder 2000, A&A, 361, 101; Heger & Langer 2000, ApJ, 544, 1016). See Figure
6.
The primary star of a short period, massive binary is particularly susceptible to these mixing
effects, so that the star remains blue and stays within its Roche lobe as it evolves (de Mink
et al. 2009, A&A, 497, 243). These effects on the primarys temperature, luminosity, and
radius are illustrated in Figure 7.
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ASTR 472: Stellar Structure & Evolution

Lecture 13

Figure 6: Schematic structure of meridional circulation in a rotating 20 M star with 5.2


R and Vini = 300 km s1 at the ZAMS. The figure is made as a function of Mr . In the
upper hemisphere on the right section, matter is turning counterclockwise along the outer
stream line and clockwise along the inner one. The inner sphere is the convective core with
radius 1.7 R . From Meynet & Maeder (2002, A&A, 390, 561).

SMC: 50M! + 25M!

1.7d
1.6d

1
Primary star

5.9

0.9
0.8

5.8

1.8d
2.0d

2.5d

3.0d

3.5d

4.0d

R / RRLOF

log L (L!)

1.5d

5.7

0.7
0.6
0.5

5.6

0.4
5.5
4.75

4.7

4.65
log Teff (K)

4.6

4.55

0.3

1.5d
1.6d
1.7d
1.8d
2.0d
2.5d
3.0d
3.5d
4.0d

SMC: 50M! + 25M!


0

0.5

1.5
2
age (Myr)

2.5

3.5

Figure 7: Left: The evolution from the onset of central H burning until the moment of Roche
lobe overow (RLOF) for a 50M star in a binary with a 25M companion (not plotted) with
initial orbital periods between 1.5 and 4 days (from de Mink et al. 2009). Right: Radius of
the same 50 M primary as a fraction of its Roche lobe radius (from de Mink et al. 2009,
A&A, 497, 243).

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