MONNIER J.D., GREENHILL L.J., TUTHILL P.G. and DANCHI W.C.
Abstract (from CDS):
A small number of dusty Wolf-Rayet stars have been resolved into pinwheel nebulae, defined by their ``rotating'' spiral dust shells observed in the infrared. This morphology is naturally explained by dust formation associated with colliding winds in a binary system. In order to confirm and further explore this hypothesis, we have observed the known pinwheel nebulae (WR 104 and WR 98a) as well as the suspected binary WR 112 at multiple radio wavelengths with the Very Large Array to search for nonthermal radio emission from colliding winds. The spectrum of each target is nearly flat between 5 and 22 GHz, consistent with the presence of nonthermal emission that is reduced at low frequencies by free-free absorption. This emission must lie outside the radio ``photosphere'', leading us to estimate a lower limit to the physical size of the nonthermal emitting region that is larger than expected from current theory. Based on a radio and infrared comparison to WR 104 and WR 98a, we conclude that WR 112 is a likely candidate pinwheel nebula, but its temporal variability indicates an eccentric binary orbit or a pinwheel viewed nearly edge-on. A sensitive radio survey of IR-bright WRs would stringently test the hypothesis that colliding winds lie at the heart of all dusty WR systems. We also discuss the effects of dust obscuration in the ultraviolet and how radio-determined mass-loss rates of pinwheel nebulae (and dusty WR stars in general) may be underestimated due to shadowing effects.
Stars: Binaries: Close - Stars: Circumstellar Matter - Radio Continuum: Stars - Stars: Winds, Outflows - Stars: Wolf-Rayet