The stellar wind velocity field of HD 77581
1 Centrum Astronomiczne im. M. Kopernika, Bartycka 18, 00716 Warszawa, Poland
2 ISDC Data Center for Astrophysics, Université de Genève, Chemin d’Ecogia 16, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
3 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Chemin des Maillettes 51, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
Received: 3 July 2015
Accepted: 21 August 2015
Aims. The early acceleration of stellar winds in massive stars is poorly constrained. The scattering of hard X-ray photons emitted by the pulsar in the high-mass X-ray binary Vela X-1 can be used to probe the stellar wind velocity and density profile close to the surface of its supergiant companion HD 77581.
Methods. We built a high signal-to-noise and high resolution hard X-ray lightcurve of Vela X-1 measured by Swift/BAT over 300 orbital periods of the system and compared it with the predictions of a grid of hydrodynamic simulations.
Results. We obtain very good agreement between observations and simulations for a narrow set of parameters, implying that the wind velocity close to the stellar surface is twice higher than usually assumed with the standard beta law. Locally a velocity gradient of β ~ 0.5 is favoured. Even if still incomplete, hydrodynamic simulations successfully reproduce several observational properties of Vela X-1.
Key words: X-rays: binaries / hydrodynamics / stars: winds, outflows / accretion, accretion disks
© ESO, 2015