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New Constraints on the Origin of the Short-Term Cyclical Variability of the Wolf-Rayet Star WR 46

By V. Hénault-Brunet, N. St-Louis, S. V. Marchenko, A. M. T. Pollock, S. Carpano and A. Talavera


The Wolf-Rayet star WR 46 is known to exhibit a very complex variability pattern on relatively short time scales of a few hours. Periodic but intermittent radial velocity shifts of optical lines as well as multiple photometric periods have been found in the past. Non-radial pulsations, rapid rotational modulation or the presence of a putative low-mass companion have been proposed to explain the short-term behaviour. In an effort to unveil its true nature, we observed WR 46 with FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer) over several short-term variability cycles. We found significant variations on a time scale of ~8 hours in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) continuum, in the blue edge of the absorption trough of the OVI {\lambda}{\lambda}1032, 1038 doublet P Cygni profile and in the SVI {\lambda}{\lambda}933, 944 P Cygni absorption profile. We complemented these observations with X-ray and UV light-curves and an X-ray spectrum from archival XMM-Newton (X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission - Newton Space Telescope) data. The X-ray and UV light-curves show variations on a time scale similar to the variability found in the FUV. We discuss our results in the context of the different scenarios suggested to explain the short-term variability of this object and reiterate that non-radial pulsations is the most likely to occur.Comment: 36 pages, 11 figures. Accepted for publication in Ap

Topics: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1088/0004-637X/735/1/13
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