Circumstellar emission in Be/X-ray binaries of the Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way

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Title: Circumstellar emission in Be/X-ray binaries of the Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way
Authors: Riquelme Carbonell, María Soledad | Torrejon, Jose M. | Negueruela, Ignacio
Research Group/s: Astronomía y Astrofísica | Astrofísica Estelar (AE)
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Física, Ingeniería de Sistemas y Teoría de la Señal
Keywords: Circumstellar matter | X-rays: binaries | Stars: early-type
Knowledge Area: Astronomía y Astrofísica | Física Aplicada
Issue Date: 2-Mar-2012
Publisher: EDP Sciences
Citation: Astronomy & Astrophysics. 2012, 539: A114. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201117738
Abstract: Aims. We study the optical and near-infrared colour excesses produced by circumstellar emission in a sample of Be/X-ray binaries. Our main goals are exploring whether previously published relations, valid for isolated Be stars, are applicable to Be/X-ray binaries and computing the distance to these systems after correcting for the effects of the circumstellar contamination. Methods. Simultaneous UBVRI photometry and spectra in the 3500−7000 Å spectral range were obtained for 11 optical counterparts to Be/X-ray binaries in the LMC, 5 in the SMC and 12 in the Milky Way. As a measure of the amount of circumstellar emission we used the Hα equivalent width corrected for photospheric absorption. Results. We find a linear relationship between the strength of the Hα emission line and the component of E(B − V) originating from the circumstellar disk. This relationship is valid for stars with emission lines weaker than EW ≈ −15   Å. Beyond this point, the circumstellar contribution to E(B − V) saturates at a value ≈0.17   mag. A similar relationship is found for the (V − I) near infrared colour excess, albeit with a steeper slope and saturation level. The circumstellar excess in (B − V) is found to be about five times higher for Be/X-ray binaries than for isolated Be stars with the same equivalent width EW(Hα), implying significant differences in the physical properties of their circumstellar envelopes. The distance to Be/X-ray binaries (with non-shell Be star companions) can only be correctly estimated by taking into account the excess emission in the V band produced by free-free and free-bound transitions in the circumstellar envelope. We provide a simple method to determine the distances that includes this effect.
Sponsor: This research has been partially supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, MICINN, under grant AYA2010-15431.
ISSN: 0004-6361 (Print) | 1432-0746 (Online)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201117738
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © ESO, 2012
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:INV - Astronomía y Astrofísica - Artículos de Revistas
INV - Astrofísica Estelar - Artículos de Revistas

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