Coordinated UV and X-ray spectroscopic observations of the O-type giant xi Per: the connection between X-rays and large-scale wind structure

Massa, D.; Oskinova, L. M.; Prinja, R.; Ignace, R.

We present new, contemporaneous HST STIS and XMM observations of the O7 III(n)((f)) star xi Per. We supplement the new data with archival IUE spectra, to analyze the variability of the wind lines and X-ray flux of xi Pper. The variable wind of this star is known to have a 2.086 day periodicity. We use a simple, heuristic spot model which fits the low velocity (near surface) IUE wind line variability very well, to demonstrate that the low velocity absorption in the new STIS spectra of N IV 1718 and Si IV 1402 vary with the same 2.086 day period. It is remarkable that the period and amplitude of the STIS data agree with those of the IUE spectra obtained 22 years earlier. We also show that the time variability of the new XMM fluxes are also consistent with the 2.086 day period. Thus, our new, multi-wavelength coordinated observations demonstrate that the mechanism which causes the UV wind line variability is also responsible for a significant fraction of the X-rays in single O stars. The sequence of events for the multi-wavelength light curve minima is: Si IV 1402, N IV 1718, and X-ray flux, each separated by a phase of about 0.06 relative to the 2.086 day period. Analysis of the X-ray fluxes shows that they become softer as they weaken. This is contrary to expectations if the variability is caused by periodic excess absorption. Further, the high resolution X-ray spectra suggest that the individual emission lines at maximum are more strongly blue shifted. If we interpret the low velocity wind line light curves in terms of our model, it implies that there are two bright regions, i.e., regions with less absorption, separated by 180 deg, on the surface of the star. We note that the presence and persistent of two spots separated by 180 deg suggests that a weak dipole magnetic field is responsible for the variability of the UV wind line absorption and X-ray flux in xi Per.

Preprint (massa-oskinova-ksi-Per-2019.pdf, 2.2MB)

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