Highly Accelerated Diamagnetic Plasmoids: A New X-ray Production Mechanism for OB Stellar Winds

Wayne L. Waldron (1) and Joseph P. Cassinelli (2)

1 - Eureka Scientific, Inc.
2 - University of Wisconsin

The observed X-ray source temperature distributions in OB stellar winds, as determined from high energy resolution Chandra observations, show that the highest temperatures occur near the star, and then steadily decrease outward through the wind. To explain this unexpected behavior, we propose a shock model concept that utilizes a well-known magnetic propulsion mechanism; the surface ejection of "diamagnetic plasmoids" into a diverging external magnetic field. This produces rapidly accelerating self-contained structures that plow through an ambient wind and form bow shocks that generate a range in X-ray temperatures determined by the plasmoid-wind relative velocities. The model free parameters are the plasmoid initial Alfven speed, the initial plasma-beta of the external medium, and the divergence rate of the external field. These are determined by fitting the predicted bow shock temperatures with the observed OB supergiant X-ray temperature distribution. We find that the initial external plasma-beta has a range between 0 and 2, and the assumed radially-decreasing external magnetic field strength that scales as r^{-S} has a value of S lying between 2 and 3. Most importantly, the initial plasmoid Alfven speed is found to be well-constrained at a value of 0.6 times the terminal velocity, which appears to represent an upper limit for all normal OB stars. This intriguing new limit on OB magnetic properties, as derived from Chandra observations, emphasizes the need for further studies of magnetic propulsion mechanisms in these stars.

Reference: To appear in ApJ Letters
Status: Manuscript has been accepted

Weblink: http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.1405


Email: wwaldron@satx.rr.com