- Predictions for mass-loss rates and terminal wind velocities of massive O-type stars
- Astronomy & Astrophysics
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
Context. Mass loss from massive stars forms an important aspect of the evolution of massive stars, as well as for the enrichment of the surrounding interstellar medium.
Aims. Our goal is to predict accurate mass-loss rates and terminal wind velocities. These quantities can be compared to empirical values, thereby testing radiation-driven wind models. One specific topical issue is that of the so-called "weak-wind problem", where empirically derived mass-loss rates and (modified) wind momenta fall orders of magnitude short of predicted values.
Methods. We employ an established Monte Carlo model and a recently suggested new line acceleration formalism to solve the wind dynamics more consistently.
Results. We provide a new grid of mass-loss rates and terminal wind velocities of O-type stars, and compare the values to empirical results. Our models fail to provide mass-loss rates for main-sequence stars below a luminosity of log(L/L⊙) = 5.2, where we appear to run into a fundamental limit. At luminosities below this critical value there is insufficient momentum transferred to the wind in the region below the sonic point in order to kick-start the acceleration of the flow. This problem occurs at almost the exact location of the onset of the weak-wind problem. For O dwarfs, the boundary between being able to start a wind, and failing to do so, is at spectral type O6/O6.5. The direct cause of this failure for O6.5 stars is a combination of the lower luminosity and a lack of Fe v lines at the base of the wind. This might indicate that - in addition to radiation pressure - another mechanism is required to provide the necessary driving to initiate the wind acceleration.
Conclusions. For stars more luminous than 105.2 L⊙, our new mass-loss rates are in excellent agreement with the mass-loss prescription by Vink et al. (2000, A&A, 362, 295) using our terminal wind velocities as input to this recipe. This implies that the main assumption entering the method of the Vink et al. prescriptions - i.e. that the momentum equation is not explicitly solved for - does not compromise the reliability of the Vink et al. results for this part of parameter space. Finally, our new models predict terminal velocities that are typically 35 and 45 percent larger than observed values. Such over-predictions are similar to those from (modified) CAK-theory.
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