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R2 doesn't really do anything with thermal runaway. The voltage divider network of R1 and R2 make the voltage bias for the base to emitter junction. When Re is added to the transistor circuit, it controls the base to emitter current to DC ground. Without this, the only current limiting it has is its intrinsic resistance of the junction that defines BetaDC. ...


Removing R2 would increase the chances for thermal runaway, there are two "loads" on R1, one is R2 and the other is the transistor. If one "load" is removed than the voltage goes up. If R2 is removed then the voltage Vcb goes up and so does the current Ib. (you could also think of it from a current node perspective and the current through R1 must go through ...

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