On the metallicity dependence of Wolf-Rayet winds
Imperial College, Blackett Laboratory, Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2AZ, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Accepted: 13 July 2005
We have performed a pilot study of mass loss predictions for late-type Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars as a function of metal abundance, over a range between Z. We find that the winds of nitrogen-rich Wolf-Rayet stars are dominated by iron lines, with a dependence of mass loss on Z similar to that of massive OB stars. For more evolved, carbon-rich, WR stars the wind strength is also found to be dependent on the Fe abundance, so that they depend on the chemical environment of the host galaxy, but with a mass loss metallicity dependence that is less steep than for OB stars. Our finding that WR mass loss is Z-dependent is a new one, with important consequences for black hole formation and X-ray population studies in external galaxies. A further finding of our study is that the Z dependence of C-rich WR stars becomes weaker at metallicities below 1/10, and mass loss no longer declines once the metal abundance drops below (Z/) 10-3. This is the result of an increased importance of radiative driving by intermediate mass elements, such as carbon. In combination with rapid rotation and/or proximity to the Eddington limit – likely to be relevant for massive Population iii stars – this effect may indicate a role for mass loss in the appearance and evolution of these objects, as well as a potential role for stellar winds in enriching the intergalactic medium of the early Universe.
Key words: stars: Wolf-Rayet / stars: early-type / stars: mass-loss / stars: winds, outflows / stars: evolution
© ESO, 2005