The X-ray light curve of the massive colliding wind Wolf-Rayet + O binary WR 21a⋆
Groupe d’Astrophysique des Hautes Énergies, Institut d’Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de LiègeQuartier Agora (B5c), Allée du 6 Août 19c, 4000 Sart Tilman Liège Belgium
Received: 24 July 2015
Accepted: 13 January 2016
Our dedicated XMM-Newton monitoring, as well as archival Chandra and Swift datasets, were used to examine the behaviour of the WN5h+O3V binary WR 21a at high energies. For most of the orbit, the X-ray emission exhibits few variations. However, an increase in strength of the emission is seen before periastron, following a 1 /D relative trend, where D is the separation between both components. This increase is rapidly followed by a decline due to strong absorption as the Wolf-Rayet (WR) comes in front. The fitted local absorption value appears to be coherent with a mass-loss rate of about 1 × 10-5 M⊙ yr-1 for the WR component. However, absorption is not the only parameter affecting the X-ray emission at periastron as even the hard X-ray emission decreases, suggesting a possible collapse of the colliding wind region near to or onto the photosphere of the companion just before or at periastron. An eclipse may appear as another potential scenario, but it would be in apparent contradiction with several lines of evidence, notably the width of the dip in the X-ray light curve and the absence of variations in the UV light curve. Afterwards, the emission slowly recovers, with a strong hysteresis effect. The observed behaviour is compatible with predictions from general wind-wind collision models although the absorption increase is too shallow.
Key words: stars: early-type / stars: Wolf-Rayet / stars: winds, outflows / X-rays: stars / stars: individual: WR 21a
Based on observations collected at ESO as well as with Swift, Chandra, and the ESA science mission XMM-Newton, an ESA Science Mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States and the USA (NASA).
© ESO, 2016