Roberta M. Humphreys, Kerstin Weis, Kris Davidson, Michael S. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In a recent paper, Smith & Tombleson state that the luminous blue variables (LBVs) in the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds are isolated; they are not spatially associated with young O-type stars. They propose a novel explanation that would overturn the standard view of LBVs. In this paper we test their hypothesis for the LBVs in M31 and M33, as well as the LMC and SMC. We show that in M31 and M33 the LBVs are associated with luminous young stars and supergiants that are appropriate to their luminosities and positions on the H-R diagram. Moreover, in the Smith and Tombleson scenario most of the LBVs should be runaway stars, but the stars' velocities are consistent with their positions in the respective galaxies. In the Magellanic Clouds, those authors' sample was a mixed population. We reassess their analysis, removing seven stars that have no clear relation to LBVs. When we separate the more massive classical and the less luminous LBVs, the classical LBVs have a distribution similar to the late O-type stars, while the less luminous LBVs have a distribution like the red supergiants. None of the confirmed LBVs have high velocities or are candidate runaway stars. These results support the accepted description of LBVs as evolved massive stars that have shed a lot of mass and are now close to their Eddington limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • Galaxies: individual (M31
  • LMC
  • M33
  • SMC)
  • stars: massive
  • stars: variables: S Doradus


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