On the importance of the wind emission to the optical continuum of OB supergiants
Astronomický ústav, Akademie věd České republiky, Fričova 298, 251 65 Ondřejov, Czech Republic e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Ústav teoretické fyziky a astrofyziky PřF MU, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 15 January 2008
Context. Thermal wind emission in the form of free-free and free-bound emission is known to show up in the infrared and radio continuum of hot and massive stars. For OB supergiants with moderate mass loss rates and a wind velocity distribution with β 0.8 ... 1.0, no influence of the wind to the optical continuum, i.e. for 1.0 μm, is expected. Investigations of stellar and wind parameters of OB supergiants over the last few years suggest, however, that for many objects β is much higher than 1.0, reaching values up to 3.5.
Aims. We investigate the influence of the free-free and free-bound emission on the emerging radiation, especially at optical wavelengths, from OB supergiants having wind velocity distributions with 1.0.
Methods. For the case of a spherically symmetric, isothermal wind in local thermodynamical equilibrium (LTE) we calculate the free-free and free-bound processes and the emerging wind and total continuum spectra. We localize the generation region of the optical wind continuum and especially focus on the influence of a β-type wind velocity distribution with β > 1 on the formation of the wind continuum at optical wavelengths.
Results. The optical wind continuum is found to be generated within about 2 R* which is exactly the wind region where β strongly influences the density distribution. We find that for β > 1, the continuum of a typical OB supergiant can indeed be contaminated with thermal wind emission, even at optical wavelengths. The strong increase in the optical wind emission is dominantly produced by free-bound processes.
Key words: stars: early-type / stars: supergiants / stars: winds, outflows / stars: mass-loss / stars: circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2008