Context. The Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud is our closest view of a starburst region and is the ideal environment to investigate important questions regarding the formation, evolution and final fate of the most massive stars. Aims. We analyze the multiplicity properties of the massive O-type star population observed through multi-epoch spectroscopy in the framework of the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. With 360 O-type stars, this is the largest homogeneous sample of massive stars analyzed to date. Methods. We use multi-epoch spectroscopy and variability analysis to identify spectroscopic binaries. We also use a Monte-Carlo method to correct for observational biases. By modeling simultaneously the observed binary fraction, the distributions of the amplitudes of the radial velocity variations and the distribution of the time scales of these variations, we constrain the intrinsic current binary fraction and period and mass-ratio distributions. Results. We observe a spectroscopic binary fraction of 0.35±0.03, which corresponds to the fraction of objects displaying statistically significant radial velocity variations with an amplitude of at least 20 km s −1 . We compute the intrinsic binary fraction to be 0.51±0.04. We adopt power-laws to describe the intrinsic period and mass-ratio distributions: f (log 10 P/d) ∼ (log 10 P/d) π (with log 10 P/d in the range 0.15−3.5) and f (q) ∼ q κ with 0.1 ≤ q = M 2 /M 1 ≤ 1.0. The power-law indexes that best reproduce the observed quantities are π = −0.45 ± 0.30 and κ = −1.0 ± 0.4. The period distribution that we obtain thus favours shorter period systems compared to an Öpik law (π = 0). The mass ratio distribution is slightly skewed towards low mass ratio systems but remains incompatible with a random sampling of a classical mass function (κ = −2.35). The binary fraction seems mostly uniform across the field of view and independent of the spectral types and luminosity classes. The binary fraction in the outer region of the field of view (r > 7.8 , i.e. ≈117 pc) and among the O9.7 I/II objects are however significantly lower than expected from statistical fluctuations. The observed and intrinsic binary fractions are also lower for the faintest objects in our sample (K s > 15.5 mag), which results from observational effects and the fact that our O star sample is not magnitude-limited but is defined by a spectral-type cutoff. We also conclude that magnitude-limited investigations are biased towards larger binary fractions. Conclusions. Using the multiplicity properties of the O stars in the Tarantula region and simple evolutionary considerations, we estimate that over 50% of the current O star population will exchange mass with its companion within a binary system. This shows that binary interaction is greatly affecting the evolution and fate of massive stars, and must be taken into account to correctly interpret unresolved populations of massive stars. Full Tables 1-3 are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via
Abstract. We present new spectroscopic and photometric observations of the young Galactic open cluster Westerlund 1 (Wd 1) that reveal a unique population of massive evolved stars. We identify ∼200 cluster members and present spectroscopic classifications for ∼25% of these. We find that all stars so classified are unambiguously post-Main Sequence objects, consistent with an apparent lack of an identifiable Main Sequence in our photometric data to V ∼ 20. We are able to identify rich populations of Wolf Rayet stars, OB supergiants and short lived transitional objects. Of these, the latter group consists of both hot (Luminous Blue Variable and extreme B supergiant) and cool (Yellow Hypergiant and Red Supergiant) objects -we find that half the known Galactic population of YHGs resides within Wd 1. We obtain a mean V − M V ∼ 25 mag from the cluster Yellow Hypergiants, implying a Main Sequence turnoff at or below M V = −5 (O7 V or later). Based solely on the masses inferred for the 53 spectroscopically classified stars, we determine an absolute minimum mass of ∼1.5 × 10 3 M for Wd 1. However, considering the complete photometrically and spectroscopically selected cluster population and adopting a Kroupa IMF we infer a likely mass for Wd 1 of ∼10 5 M , noting that inevitable source confusion and incompleteness are likely to render this an underestimate. As such, Wd 1 is the most massive compact young cluster yet identified in the Local Group, with a mass exceeding that of Galactic Centre clusters such as the Arches and Quintuplet. Indeed, the luminosity, inferred mass and compact nature of Wd 1 are comparable with those of Super Star Clusters -previously identified only in external galaxies -and is consistent with expectations for a Globular Cluster progenitor.
New Technology Telescope (NTT)/Son of Isaac (SOFI) imaging and spectroscopy of the Wolf-Rayet population in the massive cluster Westerlund 1 are presented. Narrow-band near-infrared (IR) imaging together with follow up spectroscopy reveals four new Wolf-Rayet stars, of which three were independently identified recently by Groh et al., bringing the confirmed Wolf-Rayet content to 24 (23 excluding source S) -representing 8 per cent of the known Galactic Wolf-Rayet population -comprising eight WC stars and 16 (15) WN stars. Revised coordinates and near-IR photometry are presented, whilst a quantitative near-IR spectral classification scheme for Wolf-Rayet stars is presented and applied to members of Westerlund 1. Late subtypes are dominant, with no subtypes earlier than WN5 or WC8 for the nitrogen and carbon sequences, respectively. A qualitative inspection of the WN stars suggests that most (∼75 per cent) are highly H deficient. The Wolf-Rayet binary fraction is high ( 62 per cent), on the basis of dust emission from WC stars, in addition to a significant WN binary fraction from hard X-ray detections according to Clark et al. We exploit the large WN population of Westerlund 1 to reassess its distance (∼5.0 kpc) and extinction (A K S ∼ 0.96 mag), such that it is located at the edge of the Galactic bar, with an oxygen metallicity ∼60 per cent higher than Orion. The observed ratio of WR stars to red and yellow hypergiants, N(WR)/N(RSG + YHG) ∼3, favours an age of ∼4.5-5.0 Myr, with individual Wolf-Rayet stars descended from progenitors of initial mass ∼40-55 M . Qualitative estimates of current masses for non-dusty, H-free WR stars are presented, revealing 10-18 M , such that ∼75 per cent of the initial stellar mass has been removed via stellar winds or close binary evolution. We present a revision to the cluster turn-off mass for other Milky Way clusters in which Wolf-Rayet stars are known, based upon the latest temperature calibration for OB stars. Finally, comparisons between the observed WR population and subtype distribution in Westerlund 1 and instantaneous burst evolutionary synthesis models are presented.
We report the discovery of an X-ray pulsar in the young, massive Galactic star cluster Westerlund 1. We detected a coherent signal from the brightest X-ray source in the cluster, CXO J164710.2-455216, during two Chandra observations on 2005 May 22 and June 18. The period of the pulsar is 10.6107(1) s. We place an upper limit to the period derivative of Pdot<2e-10 s/s, which implies that the spin-down luminosity is Edot<3e33 erg/s. The X-ray luminosity of the pulsar is L_X = 3(+10,-2)e33 (D/5 kpc)^2 erg/s, and the spectrum can be described by a kT = 0.61+/-0.02 keV blackbody with a radius of R_bb = 0.27+/-0.03 (D/5 kpc}) km. Deep infrared observations reveal no counterpart with K<18.5, which rules out binary companions with M>1 Msun. Taken together, the properties of the pulsar indicate that it is a magnetar. The rarity of slow X-ray pulsars and the position of CXO J164710.2-455216 only 1.6' from the core of Westerlund 1 indicates that it is a member of the cluster with >99.97% confidence. Westerlund 1 contains 07V stars with initial masses M_i=35 Msun and >50 post-main-sequence stars that indicate the cluster is 4+/-1 Myr old. Therefore, the progenitor to this pulsar had an initial mass M_i>40 Msun. This is the most secure result among a handful of observational limits to the masses of the progenitors to neutron stars.Comment: 4 pages, 5 figures. Final version to match ApJL (added one figure since v2
Context. After leaving the main sequence, massive stars undergo complex evolution, which is still poorly understood. With a population of hundreds of OB stars, the starburst cluster Westerlund 1 offers an unparallelled environment to study their evolutionary tracks. Aims. We characterise a large sample of evolved OB stars in the cluster, with the aim of determining cluster parameters and place stars in an evolutionary sequence. Methods. We used the FORS2 instrument on the VLT to obtain intermediate-resolution spectroscopy over the range 5800-9000Å of about a hundred stars selected as likely members of the cluster based on their photometry. We developed criteria for their spectral classification using only spectral features in the range observed. We discuss these criteria, useful for spectral classification of earlytype stars in the GAIA spectral region, in the appendix. Using these criteria, we obtain spectral classifications, probably accurate to one subtype, for 57 objects, most of which had no previous classification or a generic classification. Results. We identify more than 50 objects as OB supergiants. We find almost 30 luminous early-B supergiants and a number of less luminous late-O supergiants. In addition, we find a few mid B supergiants with very high luminosity, some of them displaying signs of heavy mass loss. All these stars form a sequence compatible with theoretical evolutionary tracks. In addition, two early B supergiants also show indication of heavy mass loss and may represent the evolutionary phase immediately prior to the Wolf-Rayet stage. We investigate cluster properties using the spectral types and existing photometry. We find that the reddening law to the cluster does not deviate strongly from standard, even though extinction is quite variable, with an average value A V = 10.8. Though evolutionary tracks for high-mass stars are subject to large uncertainties, our data support an age of > ∼ 5 Myr and a distance d ≈ 5 kpc for Westerlund 1. Conclusions. The spectral types observed are compatible with a single burst of star formation (the age range is very unlikely to be > 1 Myr). Westerlund 1 shows its potentiality as a laboratory for massive star evolution, which can be fulfilled by detailed study of the population presented here.
Aims. Despite their importance to a number of astrophysical fields, the lifecycles of very massive stars are still poorly defined. In order to address this shortcoming, we present a detailed quantitative study of the physical properties of four early-B hypergiants (BHGs) of spectral type B1-4 Ia + ; Cyg OB2 #12, ζ 1 Sco, HD 190603 and BP Cru. These are combined with an analysis of their long-term spectroscopic and photometric behaviour in order to determine their evolutionary status. Methods. Quantitative analysis of UV-radio photometric and spectroscopic datasets was undertaken with a non-LTE model atmosphere code in order to derive physical parameters for comparison with apparently closely related objects, such as B supergiants (BSGs) and luminous blue variables (LBVs), and theoretical evolutionary predictions. Results. The long-term photospheric and spectroscopic datasets compiled for the early-B HGs revealed that they are remarkably stable over long periods (≥40 yrs), with the possible exception of ζ 1 Sco prior to the 20th century; in contrast to the typical excursions that characterise LBVs. Quantitative analysis of ζ 1 Sco, HD 190603 and BP Cru yielded physical properties intermediate between BSGs and LBVs; we therefore suggest that BHGs are the immediate descendants and progenitors (respectively) of such stars, for initial masses in the range ∼30−60 M . Comparison of the properties of ζ 1 Sco with the stellar population of its host cluster/association NGC 6231/Sco OB1 provides further support for such an evolutionary scenario. In contrast, while the wind properties of Cyg OB2 #12 are consistent with this hypothesis, the combination of extreme luminosity and spectroscopic mass (∼110 M ) and comparatively low temperature means it cannot be accommodated in such a scheme. Likewise, despite its co-location with several LBVs above the Humphreys-Davidson (HD) limit, the lack of long term variability and its unevolved chemistry apparently excludes such an identification. Since such massive stars are not expected to evolve to such cool temperatures, instead traversing an O4-6Ia→O4-6Ia + →WN7-9ha pathway, the properties of Cyg OB2 #12 are therefore difficult to understand under current evolutionary paradigms. Finally, we note that as with AG Car in its cool phase, despite exceeding the HD limit, the properties of Cyg OB2 #12 imply that it lies below the Eddington limit -thus we conclude that the HD limit does not define a region of the HR diagram inherently inimical to the presence of massive stars.
Aims. We investigate the nature of the X-ray point source population within the Young Massive Cluster Westerlund 1. Methods. Chandra observations of 18 ks and 42 ks were used to determine the X-ray properties of emitters within Wd 1, while a comprehensive multiwavelength dataset was employed to constrain their nature. Results. We find X-ray emission from a multitude of different stellar sources within Wd 1, including both evolved high mass and low mass pre-MS stars. We attribute the X-ray emission from the high mass component to both single stars and colliding wind binaries on the basis of their observed flux and spectral properties, with binaries being systematically harder and more luminous than single stars. We are able to infer a high binary fraction for both WN (10/16) and WC stars (7/8), resulting in a combined Wolf Rayet binary fraction of > ∼ 70%. These represent the most stringent limits currently placed on the binary fraction of very massive (>45 M ) stars. We place the first observational constraints on X-ray emission from stars transitioning between the Main Sequence and Wolf Rayet phases, finding that both hot (B hypergiants) and cool (yellow hypergiants and red supergiants) spectral types appear to be intrinsically X-ray faint. The B[e] star W9 is found to be X-ray bright and shows similarities to both the X-ray binary SS433 and the Luminous Blue Variable η Carinae. Globally, we find the point source population to be systematically fainter than those found in younger massive star forming regions such as NGC 3603 and R136/30 Doradus, consistent with a loss of the most massive stars to SNe and a reduction in emissivity from the low mass pre-Main Sequence stars. No unambiguous evidence for X-ray emission due to accretion onto relativistic objects of any mass is found, although the current data do not exclude the presence of either a High Mass X-ray Binary or an Intermediate Mass Black Hole accreting at a low rate. Finally, we suggest the progenitor mass for the magnetar CXOU J164710.2-455216 is comparable to that of SGR 1806-20 (∼55 M ), while that for SGR 1900+14 appears significantly lower (∼15 M ), implying that magnetars may form from stars with a wide range of initial masses.
We have analysed near-infrared NTT/SofI observations of the starburst cluster Westerlund 1, which is among the most massive young clusters in the Milky Way. A comparison of colour-magnitude diagrams with theoretical main-sequence and pre-main sequence evolutionary tracks yields improved extinction and distance estimates of A Ks = 1.13 ± 0.03 mag and d = 3.55 ± 0.17 kpc (DM = 12.75 ± 0.10 mag). The pre-main sequence population is best fit by a Palla & Stahler isochrone for an age of 3.2 Myr, while the main sequence population is in agreement with a cluster age of 3 to 5 Myr. An analysis of the structural parameters of the cluster yields that the half-mass radius of the cluster population increases towards lower mass, indicative of the presence of mass segregation. The cluster is clearly elongated with an eccentricity of 0.20 for stars with masses between 10 and 32 M , and 0.15 for stars with masses in the range 3 to 10 M . We derive the slope of the stellar mass function for stars with masses between 3.4 and 27 M . In an annulus with radii between 0.75 and 1.5 pc from the cluster centre, we obtain a slope of Γ = −1.3. Closer in, the mass function of Westerlund 1 is shallower with Γ = −0.6. The extrapolation of the mass function for stars with masses from 0.08 to 120 M yields an initial total stellar mass of ≈52 000 M , and a present-day mass of 20 000 to 45 000 M (about 10 times the stellar mass of the Orion nebula cluster, and 2 to 4 times the mass of the NGC 3603 young cluster), indicating that Westerlund 1 is the most massive starburst cluster identified to date in the Milky Way.
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