Decoding of the light changes in eclipsing Wolf-Rayet binaries, I. A non-classical approach to the solution of light curves

C. Perrier (1), J. Breysacher (2), and G. Rauw (3)

(1) Observatoire de Grenoble, France, (2) Lieu-dit Petit Riston, France, (3) Institut d'Astrophysique & Géophysique, Liège, Belgium

We present a technique to determine the orbital and physical parameters of eclipsing eccentric Wolf-Rayet + O-star binaries, where one eclipse is produced by the absorption of the O-star light by the stellar wind of the W-R star. Our method is based on the use of the empirical moments of the light curve that are integral transforms evaluated from the observed light curves. The optical depth along the line of sight and the limb darkening of the W-R star are modelled by simple mathematical functions, and we derive analytical expressions for the moments of the light curve as a function of the orbital parameters and the key parameters of the transparency and limb-darkening functions. These analytical expressions are then inverted in order to derive the values of the orbital inclination, the stellar radii, the fractional luminosities, and the parameters of the wind transparency and limb-darkening laws. The method is applied to the SMC W-R eclipsing binary HD 5980, a remarkable object that underwent an LBV-like event in August 1994. The analysis refers to the pre-outburst observational data. A synthetic light curve based on the elements derived for the system allows a quality assessment of the results obtained.

Reference: Astronomy & Astrophysics (in press)
Status: Manuscript has been accepted

Weblink: arXiv:0906.4629