Discovery of the Massive Overcontact Binary VFTS352: Evidence for Enhanced Internal Mixing

Almeida, L. A.; Sana, H.; de Mink, S. E.; Tramper, F.; Soszyński, I.; Langer, N.; Barbá, R. H.; Cantiello, M.; Damineli, A.; de Koter, A.; Garcia, M.; Gräfener, G.; Herrero, A.; Howarth, I.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; Norman, C.; Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; Vink, J. S.

The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 812, Issue 2, 102 (2015)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


The contact phase expected to precede the coalescence of two massive stars is poorly characterized due to the paucity of observational constraints. Here we report on the discovery of VFTS 352, an O-type binary in the 30 Doradus region, as the most massive and earliest spectral type overcontact system known to date. We derived the 3D geometry of the system, its orbital period {P}{{orb}}=1.1241452(4) day, components’ effective temperatures—T1 = 42 540 ± 280 K and T2 = 41 120 ± 290 K—and dynamical masses—{M}1=28.63+/- 0.30 {M}☉ and {M}2=28.85+/- 0.30 {M}☉ . Compared to single-star evolutionary models, the VFTS 352 components are too hot for their dynamical masses by about 2700 and 1100 K, respectively. These results can be explained naturally as a result of enhanced mixing, theoretically predicted to occur in very short-period tidally locked systems. The VFTS 352 components are two of the best candidates identified so far to undergo this so-called chemically homogeneous evolution. The future of VFTS 352 is uncertain. If the two stars merge, a very rapidly rotating star will be produced. Instead, if the stars continue to evolve homogeneously and keep shrinking within their Roche Lobes, coalescence can be avoided. In this case, tides may counteract the spin down by winds such that the VFTS 352 components may, at the end of their life, fulfill the requirements for long gamma-ray burst (GRB) progenitors in the collapsar scenario. Independently of whether the VFTS 352 components become GRB progenitors, this scenario makes VFTS 352 interesting as a progenitor of a black hole binary, hence as a potential gravitational wave source through black hole-black hole merger.

Keywords: binaries: close; binaries: eclipsing; binaries: spectroscopic; stars: early-type; stars: individual: VFTS 352; stars: massive; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

Massive stars on the verge of exploding: the properties of oxygen sequence Wolf-Rayet stars

Tramper, F.; Straal, S. M.; Sanyal, D.; Sana, H.; de Koter, A.; Gräfener, G.; Langer, N.; Vink, J. S.; de Mink, S. E.; Kaper, L.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 581, A110 (2015)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Context. Oxygen sequence Wolf-Rayet (WO) stars are a very rare stage in the evolution of massive stars. Their spectra show strong emission lines of helium-burning products, in particular highly ionized carbon and oxygen. The properties of WO stars can be used to provide unique constraints on the (post-)helium burning evolution of massive stars, and their remaining lifetimes and the expected properties of their supernovae.
Aims: We aim to homogeneously analyze the currently known presumed-single WO stars to obtain the key stellar and outflow properties and to constrain their evolutionary state.
Methods: We use the line-blanketed non-local thermal equilibrium atmosphere code cmfgen to model the X-Shooter spectra of the WO stars and to deduce the atmospheric parameters. We calculate dedicated evolutionary models to determine the evolutionary state of the stars.
Results: The WO stars have extremely high temperatures that range from 150 kK to 210 kK, and very low surface helium mass fractions that range from 44% down to 14%. Their properties can be reproduced by evolutionary models with helium zero-age main sequence masses of MHe,ini = 15-25 M that exhibit a fairly strong (a few times 10-5M yr-1), homogeneous (fc> 0.3) stellar wind.
Conclusions: WO stars represent the final evolutionary stage of stars with estimated initial masses of Mini = 40-60 M. They are post core-helium burning and predicted to explode as type Ic supernovae within a few thousand years.

Keywords: stars: Wolf-Rayet; stars: massive; stars: winds; outflows; stars: atmospheres; stars: fundamental parameters; stars: early-type; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. XXI. Stellar spin rates of O-type spectroscopic binaries

Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.; Sana, H.; de Mink, S. E.; Hénault-Brunet, V.; de Koter, A.; Langer, N.; Tramper, F.; Gräfener, G.; Evans, C. J.; Vink, J. S.; Dufton, P. L.; Taylor, W. D.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 580, A92 (2015)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Context. The initial distribution of spin rates of massive stars is a fingerprint of their elusive formation process. It also sets a key initial condition for stellar evolution and is thus an important ingredient in stellar population synthesis. So far, most studies have focused on single stars. Most O stars are, however, found in multiple systems.
Aims: By establishing the spin-rate distribution of a sizeable sample of O-type spectroscopic binaries and by comparing the distributions of binary subpopulations with one another and with that of presumed-single stars in the same region, we aim to constrain the initial spin distribution of O stars in binaries, and to identify signatures of the physical mechanisms that affect the evolution of the spin rates of massive stars.
Methods: We use ground-based optical spectroscopy obtained in the framework of the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS) to establish the projected equatorial rotational velocities (νesini) for components of 114 spectroscopic binaries in 30 Doradus. The νesini values are derived from the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of a set of spectral lines, using a FWHM vs. νesini calibration that we derive based on previous line analysis methods applied to single O-type stars in the VFTS sample.
Results: The overall νesini distribution of the primary stars resembles that of single O-type stars in the VFTS, featuring a low-velocity peak (at νesini< 200 kms-1) and a shoulder at intermediate velocities (200 < νesini< 300 kms-1). The distributions of binaries and single stars, however, differ in two ways. First, the main peak at νesini ~ 100kms-1 is broader and slightly shifted towards higher spin rates in the binary distribution than that of the presumed-single stars. This shift is mostly due to short-period binaries (Porb~< 10 d). Second, the νesini distribution of primaries lacks a significant population of stars spinning faster than 300 kms-1, while such a population is clearly present in the single-star sample. The νesini distribution of binaries with amplitudes of radial velocity variation in the range of 20 to 200 kms-1 (mostly binaries with Porb ~ 10-1000 d and/or with q< 0.5) is similar to that of single O stars below νesini~< 170kms-1.
Conclusions: Our results are compatible with the assumption that binary components formed with the same spin distribution as single stars, and that this distribution contains few or no fast-spinning stars. The higher average spin rate of stars in short-period binaries may either be explained by spin-up through tides in such tight binary systems, or by spin-down of a fraction of the presumed-single stars and long-period binaries through magnetic braking (or by a combination of both mechanisms). Most primaries and secondaries of SB2 systems with Porb~< 10 d appear to have similar rotational velocities. This is in agreement with tidal locking in close binaries where the components have similar radii. The lack of very rapidly spinning stars among binary systems supports the idea that most stars with νesini~> 300kms-1 in the single-star sample are actually spun-up post-binary interaction products. Finally, the overall similarities (low-velocity peak and intermediate-velocity shoulder) of the spin distribution of binary and single stars argue for a massive star formation process in which the initial spin is set independently of whether stars are formed as single stars or as components of a binary system.

Keywords: stars: rotation; binaries: spectroscopic; Magellanic Clouds; galaxies: star clusters: individual: 30 Doradus; line: profiles; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

A resolved, au-scale gas disk around the B[e] star HD 50138

Ellerbroek, L. E.; Benisty, M.; Kraus, S.; Perraut, K.; Kluska, J.; le Bouquin, J. B.; Borges Fernandes, M.; Domiciano de Souza, A.; Maaskant, K. M.; Kaper, L.; Tramper, F.; Mourard, D.; Tallon-Bosc, I.; ten Brummelaar, T.; Sitko, M. L.; Lynch, D. K.; Russell, R. W.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 573, A77 (2015)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


HD 50138 is a B[e] star surrounded by a large amount of circumstellar gas and dust. Its spectrum shows characteristics which may indicate either a pre- or a post-main-sequence system. Mapping the kinematics of the gas in the inner few au of the system contributes to a better understanding of its physical nature. We present the first high spatial and spectral resolution interferometric observations of the Brγ line of HD 50138, obtained with VLTI/AMBER. The line emission originates in a region more compact (up to 3 au) than the continuum-emitting region. Blue- and red-shifted emission originates from the two different hemispheres of an elongated structure perpendicular to the polarization angle. The velocity of the emitting medium decreases radially. An overall offset along the NW direction between the line- and continuum-emitting regions is observed. We compare the data with a geometric model of a thin Keplerian disk and a spherical halo on top of a Gaussian continuum. Most of the data are well reproduced by this model, except for the variability, the global offset and the visibility at the systemic velocity. The evolutionary state of the system is discussed; most diagnostics are ambiguous and may point either to a post-main-sequence or a pre-main-sequence nature.

Keywords: stars: formation; stars: emission-line; Be; stars: variables: T Tauri; Herbig Ae/Be; circumstellar matter; stars: individual: HD 50138; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

The properties of ten O-type stars in the low-metallicity galaxies IC 1613, WLM, and NGC 3109

Tramper, F.; Sana, H.; de Koter, A.; Kaper, L.; Ramírez-Agudelo, O. H.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 572, A36 (2014)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Context. Massive stars likely played an important role in the reionization of the Universe, and the formation of the first black holes. They are potential progenitors of long-duration gamma-ray bursts, seen up to redshifts of about ten. Massive stars in low-metallicity environments in the local Universe are reminiscent of their high redshift counterparts, emphasizing the importance of the study of their properties and evolution. In a previous paper, we reported on indications that the stellar winds of low-metallicity O stars may be stronger than predicted, which would challenge the current paradigm of massive star evolution.
Aims: In this paper, we aim to extend our initial sample of six O stars in low-metallicity environments by four. The total sample of ten stars consists of the optically brightest sources in IC 1613, WLM, and NGC 3109. We aim to derive their stellar and wind parameters, and compare these to radiation-driven wind theory and stellar evolution models.
Methods: We have obtained intermediate-resolution VLT/X-shooter spectra of our sample of stars. We derive the stellar parameters by fitting synthetic fastwindline profiles to the VLT/X-shooter spectra using a genetic fitting algoritm. We compare our parameters to evolutionary tracks and obtain evolutionary masses and ages. We also investigate the effective temperature versus spectral type calibration for SMC and lower metallicities. Finally, we reassess the wind momentum versus luminosity diagram.
Results: The derived parameters of our target stars indicate stellar masses that reach values of up to 50 M. The wind strengths of our stars are, on average, stronger than predicted from radiation-driven wind theory and reminiscent of stars with an LMC metallicity. We discuss indications that the iron content of the host galaxies is higher than originally thought and is instead SMC-like. We find that the discrepancy with theory is reduced, but remains significant for this higher metallicity. This may imply that our current understanding of the wind properties of massive stars, both in the local universe as well as at cosmic distances, remains incomplete.

Keywords: stars: early-type; stars: massive; stars: winds; outflows; stars: mass-loss; stars: evolution; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics