The Close Binary Frequency of Wolf-Rayet Stars as a Function of Metallicity in M31 and M33

Kathryn F. Neugent (1) and Philip Massey (1)

(1) Lowell Observatory

Massive star evolutionary models generally predict the correct ratio of WC-type and WN-type Wolf-Rayet stars at low metallicities, but underestimate the ratio at higher (solar and above) metallicities. One possible explanation for this failure is perhaps single-star models are not sufficient and Roche-lobe overflow in close binaries is necessary to produce the "extra" WC stars at higher metallicities. However, this would require the frequency of close massive binaries to be metallicity dependent. Here we test this hypothesis by searching for close Wolf-Rayet binaries in the high metallicity environments of M31 and the center of M33 as well as in the lower metallicity environments of the middle and outer regions of M33. After identifying ~100 Wolf-Rayet binaries based on radial velocity variations, we conclude that the close binary frequency of Wolf-Rayets is not metallicity dependent and thus other factors must be responsible for the overabundance of WC stars at high metallicities. However, our initial identifications and observations of these close binaries have already been put to good use as we are currently observing additional epochs for eventual orbit and mass determinations.

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