Tidal effects on the radial velocity curve of HD 77581 (Vela X-1)
1 Instituto de Ciencias Físicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, Mor. 62210, Mexico
2 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510, Mexico
3 Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI, 96822 USA
Received: 3 November 2011
Accepted: 9 January 2012
Context. The mass of the neutron star in Vela X-1 has been found to be larger than the canonical 1.5 M⊙. This result relies on the assumption that the amplitude of the optical component’s measured radial velocity curve is not seriously affected by the interactions in the system.
Aims. Our aim is to explore the effect on the radial velocity curve caused by surface motions excited by tidal interactions.
Methods. We use a calculation from first principles that involves solving the equations of motion of a Lagrangian grid of surface elements. The velocities on the visible surface of the star are projected along the line-of-sight to the observer to obtain the Doppler shifts which are applied to the local line-profiles, which are then combined to obtain the absorption-line profile in the observer’s reference frame. The centroid of the line-profiles for different orbital phases is then measured and a simulated RV curve constructed. Models are run for the “standard” (v sini = 116 km s-1) and “slow” (56 km s-1) supergiant rotation velocities.
Results. The surface velocity field is complex and includes fast, small-spatial scale structures. It leads to strong variability in the photospheric line profiles which, in turn, causes significant deviations from a Keplerian RV curve. The peak-to-peak amplitudes of model RV curves are in all cases larger than the amplitude of the orbital motion. Keplerian fits to RV curves obtained with the “standard” rotation velocity imply mns ≥ 1.7 M⊙. However, a similar analysis of the “slow” rotational velocity models allows for mns ~ 1.5 M⊙. Thus, the stellar rotation plays an important role in determining the characteristics of the perturbed RV curve.
Conclusions. Given the observational uncertainty in GP Vel’s projected rotation velocity and the strong perturbations seen in the published and the model RV curves, we are unable to rule out a small (~1.5 M⊙) mass for the neutron star companion.
Key words: stars: neutron / binaries: spectroscopic / stars: rotation / stars: individual: HD 77581
© ESO, 2012