X-ray Spectroscopy of the O Supergiant ζ Puppis Indicates Surprising Variation in the Wind Mass-loss Rate on Years Timescales

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2022
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Swarthmore College. Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
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en
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We apply two mass-loss rate diagnostics described in the thesis on Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray spectroscopic measurements of ζ Pup, one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way and one of the closest O stars to Earth. Emission line profile analysis from new long Chandra grating observations taken during 2018 and 2019 indicates a significant 40% increase in ζ Pup’s wind mass-loss rate as compared to data taken in Chandra’s first observation cycle in 2000. Broadband spectral modeling of 20 years of XMM observations also reveal non-periodic wind mass-loss rate variation at a 40% level on timescales of months to years. These results are surprising as the mass-loss rates of massive stars are predicted to be constant.
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