The Effect of Porosity on X-ray Emission Line Profiles from Hot-Star Winds

Stanley P. Owocki$^1$ and David H. Cohen$^2$

1- Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware
2- Department of Physics and Astronomy, Swarthmore College

We investigate the degree to which the nearly symmetric form of X-ray emission lines seen in Chandra spectra of early-type supergiant stars could be explained by a possibly porous nature of their spatially structured stellar winds. Such porosity could effectively reduce the bound-free absorption of X-rays emitted by embedded wind shocks, and thus allow a more similar transmission of red- vs. blue-shifted emission from the back vs. front hemispheres. For a medium consisting of clumps of size l and volume filling factor f, in which the `porosity length' h=l/f increases with local radius as h = h' r, we find that a substantial reduction in wind absorption requires a quite large porosity scale factor h' > 1, implying large porosity lengths h > r. The associated wind structure must thus have either a relatively large scale l~ r, or a small volume filling factor f ~ l/r << 1, or some combination of these. The relatively small-scale, moderate compressions generated by intrinsic instabilities in line-driving seem unlikely to give such large porosity lengths, leaving again the prospect of instead having to invoke a substantial (ca. factor 5) downward revision in assumed mass-loss rates to explain the near symmetry of X-ray line profiles.

Reference: ApJ, submitted
Status: Manuscript has been submitted


Comments: also available as astro-ph/0602054