Hydrodynamics of astrophysical winds driven by scattering in spectral lines

A. Feldmeier

Universität Potsdam, Institut für Physik, Lehrstuhl Astrophysik, Germany

Line driven winds are accelerated by the momentum transfer from photons to a plasma, by absorption and scattering in numerous spectral lines. Line driving is most efficient for ultraviolet radiation, and at plasma temperatures from 104 K to 105 K. Astronomical objects which show line driven winds include stars of spectral type O, B, and A, Wolf-Rayet stars, and accretion disks over a wide range of scales, from disks in young stellar objects and cataclysmic variables to quasar disks. It is not yet possible to solve the full wind problem numerically, and treat the combined hydrodynamics, radiative transfer, and statistical equilibrium of these flows. The emphasis in the present writing is on wind hydrodynamics, with severe simplifications in the other two areas. I consider three topics in some detail, for reasons of personal involvement. 1. Wind instability, as caused by Doppler de-shadowing of gas parcels. The instability causes the wind gas to be compressed into dense shells enclosed by strong shocks. Fast clouds occur in the space between shells, and collide with the latter. This leads to X-ray flashes which may explain the observed X-ray emission from hot stars. 2. Wind runaway, as caused by a new type of radiative waves. The runaway may explain why observed line driven winds adopt fast, critical solutions instead of shallow (or breeze) solutions. Under certain conditions the wind settles on overloaded solutions, which show a broad deceleration region and kinks in their velocity law. 3. Magnetized winds, as launched from accretion disks around stars or in active galactic nuclei. Line driving is assisted by centrifugal forces along co-rotating poloidal magnetic field lines, and by Lorentz forces due to toroidal field gradients. A vortex sheet starting at the inner disk rim can lead to highly enhanced mass loss rates.

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