A Systematic Search for Corotating Interaction Regions in Apparently Single Galactic WR Stars. I. Characterizing the Variability.

N. St-Louis^1, A.-N. Chene^2, O. Schnurr^3 & M.-H. Nicol^4

^1 Universite de Montreal, ^2 National Research Council Canada, ^3 University of Sheffield, ^4 Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

We present the results of a systematic search for large-scale spectroscopic variability in apparently single Wolf-Rayet stars brighter than ~12.5. In this first paper we characterize the various forms of variability detected and distinguish several separate groups. For each star in our sample, we obtained 4-5 high-resolution spectra with a signal-to-noise ratio ~100. Our ultimate goal is to identify new candidates presenting variability that potentially comes from Co-rotating Interaction Regions (CIR).

Out of a sample of 25 stars, 10 were found to display large-scale changes of which 4 are of CIR-type (WR1, WR115, WR120 and WR134). The star WR134 was already known to show such changes from previous studies. Three WN8 stars present a different type of large-scale variability and we believe deserve a group of their own. Also, all three WC9d stars in our sample present large-scale variability, but it remains to be checked if these are binaries, as many dust-making WR stars are double. Finally, of the remaining stars, 10 were found to show small-amplitude spectral changes which we
attribute to normal line-profile variability due to inhomogeneities in the wind, and 5 were found to show no spectral variability, as far as can be concluded from the data in hand.

Follow-up studies are required to identify potential periods for our candidates showing CIR-type changes and eventually estimate a rotation rate for these WR stars.

Reference: ApJ, 696, in press
Status: Manuscript has been accepted

Weblink: http://www.astro.umontreal.ca/~stlouis/papers/NSURV09/stlouisetal09.pdf


Email: stlouis@astro.umontreal.ca