The CHARA Array resolves the long-period Wolf-Rayet binaries WR 137 and WR 138

Richardson, Noel D.; Shenar, Tomer; Roy-Loubier, Olivier; Schaefer, Gail; Moffat, Anthony F. J.; St-Louis, Nicole; Gies, Douglas R.; Farrington, Chris; Hill, Grant M.; Williams, Peredur M.; Gordon, Kathryn; Pablo, Herbert; Ramiaramanantsoa, Tahina

We report on interferometric observations with the CHARA Array of two classical Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars in suspected binary systems, namely WR 137 and WR 138. In both cases, we resolve the component stars to be separated by a few milliarcseconds. The data were collected in the H band, and provide a measure of the fractional flux for both stars in each system. We find that the WR star is the dominant H-band light source in both systems (fWR,137 = 0.59 ± 0.04; fWR,138 = 0.67 ± 0.01), which is confirmed through both comparisons with estimated fundamental parameters for WR stars and O dwarfs, as well as through spectral modelling of each system. Our spectral modelling also provides fundamental parameters for the stars and winds in these systems. The results on WR 138 provide evidence that it is a binary system which may have gone through a previous mass-transfer episode to create the WR star. The separation and position of the stars in the WR 137 system together with previous results from the IOTA interferometer provides evidence that the binary is seen nearly edge-on. The possible edge-on orbit of WR 137 aligns well with the dust production site imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope during a previous periastron passage, showing that the dust production may be concentrated in the orbital plane.

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