On the metallicity dependence of Wolf-Rayet winds

Jorick S. Vink (1)
Alex de Koter (2)

(1) Imperial College London, U.K.
(2) University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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 10^{-5} < (Z/Zsun) < 10. 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 (Z/Zsun) < 1/10, and mass loss no longer declines once the metal abundance drops below (Z/Zsun) = 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.

Reference: Accepted for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Status: Manuscript has been accepted

Weblink: http://astro.ic.ac.uk/~jvink/Papers.html


Email: jvink@imperial.ac.uk