Journal Article

Early magnetic B-type stars: X-ray emission and wind properties

L. M. Oskinova, H. Todt, R. Ignace, J. C. Brown, J. P. Cassinelli and W.-R. Hamann

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 2, pages 1456-1474
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Early magnetic B-type stars: X-ray emission and wind properties

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We present a comprehensive study of X-ray emission by, and wind properties of, massive magnetic early B-type stars. Dedicated XMM–Newton observations were obtained for three early-type B-type stars, ξ1 CMa, V2052 Oph and ζ Cas, with recently discovered magnetic fields. We report the first detection of X-ray emission from V2052 Oph and ζ Cas. The latter is one the softest X-ray sources among the early-type stars, while the former is one of the X-ray faintest. The observations show that the X-ray spectra of our programme stars are quite soft with the bulk of X-ray emitting material having a temperature of about 1 MK. We compile the complete sample of early B-type stars with detected magnetic fields to date and existing X-ray measurements, in order to study whether the X-ray emission can be used as a general proxy for stellar magnetism. We find that the X-ray properties of early massive B-type magnetic stars are diverse, and that hard and strong X-ray emission does not necessarily correlate with the presence of a magnetic field, corroborating similar conclusions reached earlier for the classical chemically peculiar magnetic Bp–Ap stars.

We analyse the ultraviolet (UV) spectra of five non-supergiant B stars with magnetic fields (τ Sco, β Cep, ξ1 CMa, V2052 Oph and ζ Cas) by means of non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) iron-blanketed model atmospheres. The latter are calculated with the Potsdam Wolf–Rayet (PoWR) code, which treats the photosphere as well as the wind, and also accounts for X-rays. With the exception of τ Sco, this is the first analysis of these stars by means of stellar wind models. Our models accurately fit the stellar photospheric spectra in the optical and the UV. The parameters of X-ray emission, temperature and flux are included in the model in accordance with observations. We confirm the earlier findings that the filling factors of X-ray emitting material are very high.

Our analysis reveals that the magnetic early-type B stars studied here have weak winds with velocities not significantly exceeding vesc. The mass-loss rates inferred from the analysis of UV lines are significantly lower than predicted by hydrodynamically consistent models. We find that, although the X-rays strongly affect the ionization structure of the wind, this effect is not sufficient in reducing the total radiative acceleration. When the X-rays are accounted for at the intensity and temperatures observed, there is still sufficient radiative acceleration to drive a stronger mass-loss than we empirically infer from the UV spectral lines.

Keywords: techniques: spectroscopic; stars: magnetic field; stars: massive; stars: mass loss; X-rays: stars

Journal Article.  15927 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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