The Correlation between X-Ray Line Ionization and Optical Spectral Types of the OB Stars

Nolan R. Walborn
Joy S. Nichols
Wayne L. Waldron

Space Telescope Science Institute
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Eureka Scientific, Inc.

Marked correlations are reported between the ionization of the X-ray line spectra of normal OB stars, as observed by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and their optical spectral types. These correlations include the progressive weakening of the higher ionization relative to the lower ionization X-ray lines with advancing spectral type, and the similarly decreasing intensity ratios of the H-like to He-like lines of the alpha ions. These relationships were not predicted by models, nor have they been clearly evident in astrophysical studies of a few objects; rather, they have emerged from morphological analysis of an adequate (albeit still small) sample, from which known peculiar objects such as magnetic stars and very rapid rotators have been isolated to reveal the normal trends. This process is analogous to that which first demonstrated the strong relationships between the UV wind profiles and the optical spectral types of normal OB stars, which likely bear a physical as well as a historical connection to the present X-ray results. Since the optical spectral types are calibrated in terms of fundamental stellar parameters, it follows that the winds and X-ray spectra are determined by the latter. These observations provide strong guidance for further astrophysical modeling of these phenomena.

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