EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 388, Number 2, June III 2002
Page(s) 587 - 608
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020503

A&A 388, 587-608 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020503

Wind variability of B supergiants

IV. A survey of IUE time-series data of 11 B0 to B3 stars
R. K. Prinja1, D. Massa2 and A. W. Fullerton3, 4

1  Department of Physics & Astronomy, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
2  Raytheon ITSS, NASA/GSFC, Code 681, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
    e-mail: massa@taotaomona.gsfc.nasa.gov
3  Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria, PO Box 3055, Victoria, BC V8W 3P6, Canada
    e-mail: awf@pha.jhu.edu
4  Center for Astrophysical Sciences, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218-2686, USA

(Received 11 January 2002 / Accepted 28 March 2002)

We present the most suitable data sets available in the International Ultraviolet Explorer ( IUE) archive for the study of time-dependent stellar winds in early B supergiants. The UV line profile variability in 11 B0 to B3 stars is analysed, compared and discussed, based on 16 separate data sets comprising over 600 homogeneously reduced high-resolution spectrograms. The targets include "normal" stars with moderate rotation rates and examples of rapid rotators. A gallery of grey-scale images (dynamic spectra) is presented, which demonstrates the richness and range of wind variability and highlights different structures in the winds of these stars. This work emphasises the suitability of B supergiants for wind studies, under-pinned by the fact that they exhibit unsaturated wind lines for a wide range of ionization. The wind activity of B supergiants is substantial and has highly varied characteristics. The variability evident in individual stars is classified and described in terms of discrete absorption components, spontaneous absorption, bowed structures, recurrence, and ionization variability and stratification. Similar structures can occur in stars of different fundamental parameters, but also different structures may occur in the same star at a given epoch. We discuss the physical phenomena that may be associated with the spectral signatures. The diversity of wind patterns evident likely reflects the role of stellar rotation and viewing angle in determining the observational characteristics of azimuthally extended structure rooted at the stellar surface. In addition, SEI line-synthesis modelling of the UV wind lines is used to provide further information about the state of the winds in our program stars. Typically the range, implied by the line profile variability, in the product of mass-loss rate and ion fraction ( ${\hbox{$\skew3\dot M$ }}\,q_i$) is a factor of ~1.5, when integrated between 0.2 and 0.9 $v_\infty$; it can however be several times larger over localised velocity regions. At a given effective temperature the mean relative ion ratios can differ by a factor of 5. The general excess in predicted (forward-scattered) emission in the low velocity regime is discussed in terms of structured outflows. Mean ion fractions are estimated over the B0 to B1 spectral classes, and trends in the ionic ratios as a function of wind velocity are described. The low values obtained for the ion fractions of UV resonance lines may reflect the role of clumping in the wind.

Key words: stars: early-type -- stars: mass-loss -- ultraviolet: stars

Offprint request: R. K. Prinja, rkp@star.ucl.ac.uk

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