XMM-Newton observations reveal very high X-ray luminosity from the carbon-rich Wolf-Rayet star WR 48a.
ZHEKOV S.A., GAGNE M. and SKINNER S.L.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present XMM-Newton observations of the dusty Wolf-Rayet (W-R) star WR 48a. This is the first detection of this object in X-rays. The XMM-Newton EPIC spectra are heavily absorbed and the presence of numerous strong emission lines indicates a thermal origin of the WR 48a X-ray emission, with dominant temperature components at kTcool~ 1 keV and kThot~ 3 keV, the hotter component dominating the observed flux. No significant X-ray variability was detected on timescales ≤ 1 day. Although the distance to WR 48a is uncertain, if it is physically associated with the open clusters Danks 1 and 2 at d ∼4 kpc, then the resultant X-ray luminosity LX∼ 1035 erg/s makes it the most X-ray luminous W-R star in the Galaxy detected so far, after the black hole candidate Cyg X-3. We assume the following scenarios as the most likely explanation for the X-ray properties of WR 48a: (1) colliding stellar winds in a wide WR+O binary system, or in a hierarchical triple system with non-degenerate stellar components and (2) accretion shocks from the WR 48a wind onto a close companion (possibly a neutron star). More specific information about WR 48a and its wind properties will be needed to distinguish between the above possibilities.