Self Regulated Shocks in Massive Star Binary Systems

E. R. Parkin (1) & S. A. Sim (1,2)

(1) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, The Australian National University, Australia
(2) Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast

In an early-type, massive star binary system, X-ray bright shocks result from the powerful collision of stellar winds driven by radiation pressure on spectral line transitions. We examine the influence of the X-rays from the wind-wind collision shocks on the radiative driving of the stellar winds using steady state models that include a parameterized line force with X-ray ionization dependence. Our primary result is that X-ray radiation from the shocks inhibits wind acceleration and can lead to a lower pre-shock velocity, and a correspondingly lower shocked plasma temperature, yet the intrinsic X-ray luminosity of the shocks, LX remains largely unaltered, with the exception of a modest increase at small binary separations. Due to the feedback loop between the ionizing X-rays from the shocks and the wind-driving, we term this scenario as self regulated shocks. This effect is found to greatly increase the range of binary separations at which a wind-photosphere collision is likely to occur in systems where the momenta of the two winds are significantly different. Furthermore, the excessive levels of X-ray ionization close to the shocks completely suppresses the line force, and we suggest that this may render radiative braking less effective. Comparisons of model results against observations reveals reasonable agreement in terms of log(LX/Lbol). The inclusion of self regulated shocks improves the match for kT values in roughly equal wind momenta systems, but there is a systematic offset for systems with unequal wind momenta (if considered to be a wind-photosphere collision).

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


Comments: 16 pages, 13 figures