Multiwavelength Observations of NaSt1 (WR 122): Equatorial Mass Loss and X-rays from an Interacting Wolf-Rayet Binary

Jon C. Mauerhan (1), Nathan Smith (2), Schuyler D. Van Dyk (3), Katie M. Morzinski (2), Laird M. Close (2), Philip M. Hinz (2), Jared R. Males (2), and Timothy J. Rodigas (4)

(1) UC Berkeley; (2)Steward Observatory; (3) IPAC/Caltech; (4) Carnegie Institute

NaSt1 (aka Wolf-Rayet 122) is a peculiar emission-line star embedded in an extended nebula of [N II] emission with a compact dusty core. This object was characterized by Crowther & Smith (1999) as a Wolf-Rayet (WR) star cloaked in an opaque nebula of CNO-processed material, perhaps analogous to Eta Car and its Homunculus nebula, albeit with a hotter central source. To discern the
morphology of the [N II] nebula we performed narrowband imaging using the Hubble Space Telescope and Wide-field Camera 3. The images reveal that the nebula has a disk-like geometry tilted 12 degrees from edge-on, composed of a bright central ellipsoid surrounded by a larger clumpy ring. Ground-based spectroscopy reveals radial velocity structure (~10 km/s) near the outer portions of the nebula's major axis, which is likely to be the imprint of outflowing gas. Near-infrared adaptive-optics imaging with Magellan AO has resolved a compact ellipsoid of Ks-band emission aligned with the larger [N II] nebula, which we suspect is the result of scattered He I line emission (2.06 um). Observations with the Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed an X-ray point source at the core of the nebula that is heavily absorbed at energies <1 keV and has properties consistent with WR stars and colliding-wind binaries. We suggest that NaSt1 is a WR binary embedded in an equatorial outflow that formed as the result of non-conservative mass transfer. NaSt1 thus appears to be a rare and important example of a stripped-envelope WR forming through binary interaction, caught in the brief Roche-Lobe overflow phase.

Reference: MNRAS, 2015, in press
Status: Manuscript has been accepted