Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 432, L26 (2013)
R144 is a WN6h star in the 30 Doradus region. It is suspected to be a binary because of its high luminosity and its strong X-ray flux, but no periodicity could be established so far. Here, we present new X-shooter multi-epoch spectroscopy of R144 obtained at the ESO Very Large Telescope. We detect variability in position and/or shape of all the spectral lines. We measure radial velocity variations with an amplitude larger than 250 km s-1 in N IV and N V lines. Furthermore, the N III and N V line Doppler shifts are anticorrelated and the N IV lines show a double-peaked profile on six of our seven epochs. We thus conclude that R144 is a double-lined spectroscopic binary. Possible orbital periods range from two to six months, although a period up to one year is allowed if the orbit is highly eccentric. We estimate the spectral types of the components to be WN5-6h and WN6-7h, respectively. The high luminosity of the system (log Lbol/L☉ ≈ 6.8) suggests a present-day total mass content in the range of about 200-300 M☉, depending on the evolutionary stage of the components. This makes R144 the most massive binary identified so far, with a total mass content at birth possibly as large as 400 M☉. We briefly discuss the presence of such a massive object, 60 pc away from the R136 cluster core in the context of star formation and stellar dynamics.
Keywords: binaries: spectroscopic; stars: early-type; stars: formation; stars: individual: RMC 144; stars: Wolf-Rayet; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics