The Importance of XUV Radiation as a Solution to the P V Mass Loss Rate Discrepancy in O Stars

Type Journal Article
Names W. L. Waldron, J. P. Cassinelli
Publication The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume 711
Issue 1
Pages L30-L34
Date March 1, 2010
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract A controversy has developed regarding the stellar wind mass loss rates in O stars. The current consensus is that these winds may be clumped, which implies that all previously derived mass loss rates using density-squared diagnostics are overestimated by a factor of ≈2. However, arguments based on Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) observations of the P V resonance line doublet suggest that these rates should be smaller by another order of magnitude, provided that P V is the dominant phosphorous ion among these stars. Although a large mass loss rate reduction would have a range of undesirable consequences, it does provide a straightforward explanation of the unexpected symmetric and un-shifted X-ray emission-line profiles observed in high-energy resolution spectra. But acceptance of such a large reduction then leads to a contradiction with an important observed X-ray property: the correlation between He-like ion source radii and their equivalent X-ray continuum optical depth unity radii. Here we examine the phosphorous ionization balance since the P V fractional abundance, q (P V), is fundamental to understanding the magnitude of this mass loss reduction. We find that strong emission line radiation in the XUV energy band (defined here as 54 to 124 eV) can significantly reduce q (P V). Furthermore, owing to the unique energy distribution of these XUV lines, there is a negligible impact on the S V fractional abundance (a key component in the FUSE mass loss argument). We conclude that large reductions in O star mass loss rates are not required, and the X-ray optical depth unity relation remains valid.
Tags X-rays: stars, outflows, stars: early-type, stars: mass-loss, stars: winds
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