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LBV: Luminous Blue Variables

The biggest stars with more than 50 and up to 150 solar masses don't expand to a red supergiant, but have a short phase as luminous blue variables. Then they are the brightest stars that we can find in the universe. This phase only lasts about 40 000 years. After this they become Wolf-Rayet stars or they explode as an extremely strong supernova (or hypernova).
Often LBVs pulsate irregularly and cast large parts of their hull out into space. Thereby they loose during the LBV phase up to 10 solar masses, so they have a greater mass loss as Wolf-Rayet stars. We know only a few LBV, although because of their enormous brightness, some million times brighter as our Sun, they should be easy to find. LBV is among the rarest class of stars and among the most extreme.

Example: Eta Carinae

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    Carina Nebula
The Carina Nebula, in the center is Eta Carinae
Photo: N. Smith, University of Minnesota/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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