Two extremely luminous WN stars in the Galactic Center with circumstellar emission from dust and gas

A. Barniske, L.M. Oskinova, and W.-R. Hamann

Institut für Physik, Universität Potsdam, Germany

Context. The central region of our Galaxy contains a large population of young massive stars. These stars are concentrated in three large star clusters as well as scattered in the field. Strong ionizing radiation and stellar winds of massive stars are the essential feedback agents that determine the physics of the ISM in the Galactic Center.

Aims. The aim is to study relatively isolated massive WN-type stars in the Galactic Center in order to explore their properties and their influence on the ISM.

Methods. The K-band spectra of two WN stars in the Galactic Center, WR102ka and WR102c, are exploited to infer the stellar parameters and to compute synthetic stellar spectra using the Potsdam Wolf-Rayet (PoWR) model atmosphere code. These models are combined with dust-shell models for analyzing the Spitzer IRS spectra of these objects. Archival IR images complement the interpretation.

Results. We report that WR102ka and WR102c are among the most luminous stars in the Milky Way. They critically influence their immediate environment by strong mass loss and intense UV radiation, and thus set the physical conditions for their compact circumstellar nebula. The mid-IR continua for both objects are dominated by dust emission. For the first time we report the presence of dust in the close vicinity of WN stars. Also for the first time, we detect lines of pure-rotational transitions of molecular hydrogen in a massive-star nebula. A peony-shaped nebula around WR102ka is resolved at 24micron by the Spitzer MIPS camera. We attribute the formation of this IR-bright nebula to the recent evolutionary history of WR102ka.

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