A tale of two periods: determination of the orbital ephemeris of the super-Eddington pulsar NGC 7793 P13

Fürst, F.; Walton, D. J.; Heida, M.; Harrison, F. A.; Barret, D.; Brightman, M.; Fabian, A. C.; Middleton, M. J.; Pinto, C.; Rana, V.; Tramper, F.; Webb, N.; Kretschmar, P.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 616, A186 (2018)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


We present a timing analysis of multiple XMM-Newton and NuSTAR observations of the ultra-luminous pulsar NGC 7793 P13 spread over its 65 d variability period. We use the measured pulse periods to determine the orbital ephemeris, confirm a long orbital period with Porb = 63.9+0.5-0.6 d, and find an eccentricity of e ≤ 0.15. The orbital signature is imprinted on top of a secular spin-up, which seems to get faster as the source becomes brighter. We also analyze data from dense monitoring of the source with Swift and find an optical photometric period of 63.9 ± 0.5 d and an X-ray flux period of 66.8 ± 0.4 d. The optical period is consistent with the orbital period, while the X-ray flux period is significantly longer. We discuss possible reasons for this discrepancy, which could be due to a super-orbital period caused by a precessing accretion disk or an orbital resonance. We put the orbital period of P13 into context with the orbital periods implied for two other ultra-luminous pulsars, M82 X-2 and NGC 5907 ULX, and discuss possible implications for the system parameters.

Keywords: stars: neutron; X-rays: binaries; techniques: radial velocities; accretion; accretion disks; pulsars: individual: NGC 7793 P13; Astrophysics – High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena

An excess of massive stars in the local 30 Doradus starburst

Schneider, F. R. N.; Sana, H.; Evans, C. J.; Bestenlehner, J. M.; Castro, N.; Fossati, L.; Gräfener, G.; Langer, N.; Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; Sabín-Sanjulián, C.; Simón-Díaz, S.; Tramper, F.; Crowther, P. A.; de Koter, A.; de Mink, S. E.; Dufton, P. L.; Garcia, M.; Gieles, M.; Hénault-Brunet, V.; Herrero, A. Izzard, R. G.; Kalari, V.; Lennon, D. J.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; Markova, N.; Najarro, F.; Podsiadlowski, Ph.; Puls, J.; Taylor, W. D.; van Loon, J. Th.; Vink, J. S.; Norman, C.

Science, Volume 359, Issue 6371, 69 (2018)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


The 30 Doradus star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud is a nearby analog of large star-formation events in the distant universe. We determined the recent formation history and the initial mass function (IMF) of massive stars in 30 Doradus on the basis of spectroscopic observations of 247 stars more massive than 15 solar masses (M☉). The main episode of massive star formation began about 8 million years (My) ago, and the star-formation rate seems to have declined in the last 1 My. The IMF is densely sampled up to 200 M☉ and contains 32 ± 12% more stars above 30 M☉ than predicted by a standard Salpeter IMF. In the mass range of 15 to 200 M☉, the IMF power-law exponent is 1.90-0.26+0.37, shallower than the Salpeter value of 2.35.

Keywords: ASTRONOMY; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Astrophysics – Astrophysics of Galaxies

Massive pre-main-sequence stars in M17

Ramírez-Tannus, M. C.; Kaper, L.; de Koter, A.; Tramper, F.; Bik, A.; Ellerbroek, L. E.; Ochsendorf, B. B.; Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; Sana, H.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 604, A78 (2017)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


The formation process of massive stars is still poorly understood. Massive young stellar objects (mYSOs) are deeply embedded in their parental clouds; these objects are rare, and thus typically distant, and their reddened spectra usually preclude the determination of their photospheric parameters. M17 is one of the best-studied H II regions in the sky, is relatively nearby, and hosts a young stellar population. We have obtained optical to near-infrared spectra of previously identified candidate mYSOs and a few OB stars in this region with X-shooter on the ESO Very Large Telescope. The large wavelength coverage enables a detailed spectroscopic analysis of the photospheres and circumstellar disks of these candidate mYSOs. We confirm the pre-main-sequence (PMS) nature of six of the stars and characterise the O stars. The PMS stars have radii that are consistent with being contracting towards the main sequence and are surrounded by a remnant accretion disk. The observed infrared excess and the double-peaked emission lines provide an opportunity to measure structured velocity profiles in the disks. We compare the observed properties of this unique sample of young massive stars with evolutionary tracks of massive protostars and propose that these mYSOs near the western edge of the H II region are on their way to become main-sequence stars ( 6-20 M) after having undergone high mass accretion rates (Ṁacc 10-4-10-3Myr-1). Their spin distribution upon arrival at the zero age main-sequence is consistent with that observed for young B stars, assuming conservation of angular momentum and homologous contraction.

Keywords: stars: pre-main sequence; stars: massive; stars: early-type; HII regions; stars: variables: T Tauri; Herbig Ae/Be; accretion; accretion disks; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Astrophysics – Astrophysics of Galaxies

The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. XXV. Surface nitrogen abundances of O-type giants and supergiants

Grin, N. J.; Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; de Koter, A.; Sana, H.; Puls, J.; Brott, I.; Crowther, P. A.; Dufton, P. L.; Evans, C. J.; Gräfener, G.; Herrero, A.; Langer, N.; Lennon, D. J.; van Loon, J. Th.; Markova, N.; de Mink, S. E.; Najarro, F.; Schneider, F. R. N.; Taylor, W. D.; Tramper, F.; Vink, J. S.; Walborn, N. R.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 600, A82 (2017)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Context. Theoretically, rotation-induced chemical mixing in massive stars has far reaching evolutionary consequences, affecting the sequence of morphological phases, lifetimes, nucleosynthesis, and supernova characteristics.
Aims: Using a sample of 72 presumably single O-type giants to supergiants observed in the context of the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS), we aim to investigate rotational mixing in evolved core-hydrogen burning stars initially more massive than 15 M by analysing their surface nitrogen abundances.
Methods: Using stellar and wind properties derived in a previous VFTS study we computed synthetic spectra for a set of up to 21 N II-v lines in the optical spectral range, using the non-LTE atmosphere code FASTWIND. We constrained the nitrogen abundance by fitting the equivalent widths of relatively strong lines that are sensitive to changes in the abundance of this element. Given the quality of the data, we constrained the nitrogen abundance in 38 cases; for 34 stars only upper limits could be derived, which includes almost all stars rotating at νesini> 200 km s-1.
Results: We analysed the nitrogen abundance as a function of projected rotation rate νesini and confronted it with predictions of rotational mixing. We found a group of N-enhanced slowly-spinning stars that is not in accordance with predictions of rotational mixing in single stars. Among O-type stars with (rotation-corrected) gravities less than log gc = 3.75 this group constitutes 30-40 percent of the population. We found a correlation between nitrogen and helium abundance which is consistent with expectations, suggesting that, whatever the mechanism that brings N to the surface, it displays CNO-processed material. For the rapidly-spinning O-type stars we can only provide upper limits on the nitrogen abundance, which are not in violation with theoretical expectations. Hence, the data cannot be used to test the physics of rotation induced mixing in the regime of high spin rates.
Conclusions: While the surface abundances of 60-70 percent of presumed single O-type giants to supergiants behave in conformity with expectations, at least 30-40 percent of our sample can not be understood in the current framework of rotational mixing for single stars. Even though we have excluded stars showing radial velocity variations, of our sample may have remained contaminated by post-interaction binary products. Hence, it is plausible that effects of binary interaction need to be considered to understand their surface properties. Alternatively, or in conjunction, the effects of magnetic fields or alternative mass-loss recipes may need to be invoked.

Keywords: stars: early-type; stars: abundances; stars: rotation; galaxies: star clusters: individual: 30 Doradus; line: profiles; Magellanic Clouds; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey . XXIV. Stellar properties of the O-type giants and supergiants in 30 Doradus

Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; Sana, H.; de Koter, A.; Tramper, F.; Grin, N. J.; Schneider, F. R. N.; Langer, N.; Puls, J.; Markova, N.; Bestenlehner, J. M.; Castro, N.; Crowther, P. A.; Evans, C. J.; García, M.; Gräfener, G.; Herrero, A.; van Kempen, B.; Lennon, D. J.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; Najarro, F. Sabín-Sanjulián, C.; Simón-Díaz, S.; Taylor, W. D.; Vink, J. S.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 600, A81 (2017)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Context. The Tarantula region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) contains the richest population of spatially resolved massive O-type stars known so far. This unmatched sample offers an opportunity to test models describing their main-sequence evolution and mass-loss properties.
Aims: Using ground-based optical spectroscopy obtained in the framework of the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS), we aim to determine stellar, photospheric and wind properties of 72 presumably single O-type giants, bright giants and supergiants and to confront them with predictions of stellar evolution and of line-driven mass-loss theories.
Methods: We apply an automated method for quantitative spectroscopic analysis of O stars combining the non-LTE stellar atmosphere model fastwind with the genetic fitting algorithm pikaia to determine the following stellar properties: effective temperature, surface gravity, mass-loss rate, helium abundance, and projected rotational velocity. The latter has been constrained without taking into account the contribution from macro-turbulent motions to the line broadening.
Results: We present empirical effective temperature versus spectral subtype calibrations at LMC-metallicity for giants and supergiants. The calibration for giants shows a +1kK offset compared to similar Galactic calibrations; a shift of the same magnitude has been reported for dwarfs. The supergiant calibrations, though only based on a handful of stars, do not seem to indicate such an offset. The presence of a strong upturn at spectral type O3 and earlier can also not be confirmed by our data. In the spectroscopic and classical Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams, our sample O stars are found to occupy the region predicted to be the core hydrogen-burning phase by state-of-the-art models. For stars initially more massive than approximately 60 M, the giant phase already appears relatively early on in the evolution; the supergiant phase develops later. Bright giants, however, are not systematically positioned between giants and supergiants at Minit ≳ 25 M. At masses below 60 M, the dwarf phase clearly precedes the giant and supergiant phases; however this behavior seems to break down at Minit ≲ 18 M. Here, stars classified as late O III and II stars occupy the region where O9.5-9.7 V stars are expected, but where few such late O V stars are actually seen. Though we can not exclude that these stars represent a physically distinct group, this behavior may reflect an intricacy in the luminosity classification at late O spectral subtype. Indeed, on the basis of a secondary classification criterion, the relative strength of Si iv to He I absorption lines, these stars would have been assigned a luminosity class IV or V. Except for five stars, the helium abundance of our sample stars is in agreement with the initial LMC composition. This outcome is independent of their projected spin rates. The aforementioned five stars present moderate projected rotational velocities (I.e., νesini < 200kms-1) and hence do not agree with current predictions of rotational mixing in main-sequence stars. They may potentially reveal other physics not included in the models such as binary-interaction effects. Adopting theoretical results for the wind velocity law, we find modified wind momenta for LMC stars that are 0.3 dex higher than earlier results. For stars brighter than 105 L, that is, in the regime of strong stellar winds, the measured (unclumped) mass-loss rates could be considered to be in agreement with line-driven wind predictions if the clump volume filling factors were fV 1/8 to 1/6.

Keywords: stars: early-type; stars: evolution; stars: fundamental parameters; Magellanic Clouds; galaxies: star clusters: individual: 30 Doradus; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics