X-ray Emission from Eta Carinae near Periastron in 2009 I: A Two State Solution

Kenji Hamaguchi(1,2), Michael F. Corcoran(1,3), Christopher Russell(4), Andrew M.T. Pollock(5), Theodore R. Gull(6), Mairan Teodoro(6,7), Thomas I. Madura(6,8), Augusto Damineli(9), Julian M. Pittard(10)

(1)CRESST NASA/GSFC, (2)UMBC, (3)USRA, (4)Hokkai-Gakuen University, (5)ESAC, (6)NASA/GSFC, (7)CNPq, (8)NPP, (9)Universidade de S~ao Paulo, (10)The University of Leeds

X-ray emission from the supermassive binary system Eta Carinae declines sharply around periastron. This X-ray minimum has two distinct phases - the lowest flux phase in the first ~3 weeks and a brighter phase thereafter. In 2009, the Chandra X-ray Observatory monitored the first phase five times and found the lowest observed flux at ~1.9e-12 ergs cm-2 s-1 (3-8 keV). The spectral shape changed such that the hard band above ~4 keV dropped quickly at the beginning and the soft band flux gradually decreased to its lowest observed value in ~2 weeks. The hard band spectrum had begun to recover by that time. This spectral variation suggests that the shocked gas producing the hottest X-ray gas near the apex of the wind-wind collision (WWC) is blocked behind the dense inner wind of the primary star, which later occults slightly cooler gas downstream. Shocked gas previously produced by the system at earlier orbital phases is suggested to produce the faint residual X-ray emission seen when the emission near the apex is completely blocked by the primary wind. The brighter phase is probably caused by the re-appearance of the WWC plasma, whose emissivity significantly declined during the occultation. We interpret this to mean that the X-ray minimum is produced by a hybrid mechanism of an occultation and a decline in emissivity of the WWC shock.

Reference: Astrophysical Journal
Status: Manuscript has been accepted



Email: Kenji.Hamaguchi@nasa.gov