X-ray Spectroscopy of the Radiation-Driven Winds of Massive Stars: Line Profile and Line Ratio Diagnostics

David H. Cohen

Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA

Massive stars drive powerful, supersonic winds via the radiative momentum associated with the thermal UV emission from their photospheres. Shock phenomena are ubiquitous in these winds, heating them to millions, and sometimes tens of millions, of degrees. The emission line spectra from the shock heated plasma provide powerful diagnostics of the winds' physical conditions, which in turn provide constraints on models of wind shock heating. Here I show how x-ray line transfer is affected by photoelectric absorption in the partially ionized component of the wind and how it can be modeled to determine the astrophysically important mass-loss rates of these stellar winds. I also discuss how photoexcitation out of metastable excited levels of helium-like ions can provide critical information about the location of the hot plasma in magnetically channeled massive star winds.

Reference: Appears in AIP conf. ser. 1161, p. 132 (2009)
Status: Conference proceedings

Weblink: http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.3557

Comments: Invited talk presented at the 16th International Conference on Atomic Processes in Plasmas, Monterey, CA, March 2009

Email: dcohen1@swarthmore.edu