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The Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis suite of binary stellar evolution models and synthetic stellar populations provides a framework for the physically motivated analysis of both the integrated light from distant stellar populations and the detailed properties of those nearby. We present a new version 2.1 data release of these models, detailing the methodology by which Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis incorporates binary mass transfer and its effect on stellar evolution pathways, as well as the construction of simple stellar populations. We demonstrate key tests of the latest Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis model suite demonstrating its ability to reproduce the colours and derived properties of resolved stellar populations, including well-constrained eclipsing binaries. We consider observational constraints on the ratio of massive star types and the distribution of stellar remnant masses. We describe the identification of supernova progenitors in our models, and demonstrate a good agreement to the properties of observed progenitors. We also test our models against photometric and spectroscopic observations of unresolved stellar populations, both in the local and distant Universe, finding that binary models provide a self-consistent explanation for observed galaxy properties across a broad redshift range. Finally, we carefully describe the limitations of our models, and areas where we expect to see significant improvement in future versions.
The Shang (c. 1500–1045 BC) and Zhou dynasties (c. 1045–771 BC) of China are famous for their sophisticated ritual bronze vessels. Sourcing the leaded tin-bronze has, however, proved to be a challenge. A new systematic approach to metal chemistry uses trace elements and isotopes to characterise the underlying circulation pattern. It reveals the complexity of the copper sources on which the late Shang capital at Anyang depended for its bronzes, suggesting the transport of copper from distant regions in the south, on the Yangtze, and from north-east China. The new interpretational system furthers our understanding of the network on which successive Chinese dynasties depended for copper, lead and tin, and attempts to give equal weight to the archaeological and chemical data.
The Eurasian woodcock Scolopax rusticola is a widespread woodland specialist and a widely harvested quarry species throughout its European wintering areas, including Britain. Woodcock are prone to cestodiasis, but prevalence levels and possible effects on body condition remain under-studied. We studied the prevalence, abundance and intensity of cestodiasis in 161 woodcock harvested in four British regions in December and January during two consecutive winters (2013/14 and 2014/15). Cestodiasis prevalence was 90%, and there was no difference in prevalence between birds harvested in Cornwall, Wessex, East Anglia and Scotland. High prevalence levels were explained by the fact that earthworms (Lumbricidae) are intermediate hosts for some cestode species and also the most important dietary component of woodcock. The distribution of cestodiasis in woodcock was aggregated, such that when using the total length of cestodes per sample to measure abundance, 65% of the birds had less than 80 cm. Cestodiasis abundance varied between sexes across regions but the intensity was not affected by region, sex, age or their interactions. The intensity of cestodiasis was positively correlated with fresh weight and pectoral mass, while no significant correlation was found with the abdominal fat pad. Our results suggest that, despite high prevalence levels and intensity of cestodiasis in woodcock, host body condition is not significantly affected and hence it is unlikely that cestodiasis has a major effect on woodcock population dynamics.
The role of episodic mass loss in evolved massive stars is one of the outstanding questions in stellar evolution theory. Integral field spectroscopy of nebulae around massive stars provide information on their recent mass-loss history. η Car is one of the most massive evolved stars and is surrounded by a complex circumstellar environment. We have conducted a three-dimensional morpho-kinematic analysis of η Car’s ejecta outside its famous Homunculus nebula. SHAPE modelling of VLT MUSE data establish unequivocally the spatial cohesion of the outer ejecta and the correlation of ejecta with the soft X-ray emission.
We have recently released version 2.0 of the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) population synthesis code. This is designed to construct the spectra and related properties of stellar populations built from ~200,000 detailed, individual stellar models of known age and metallicity. The output products enable a broad range of theoretical predictions for individual stars, binaries, resolved and unresolved stellar populations, supernovae and their progenitors, and compact remnant mergers. Here we summarise key applications that demonstrate that binary populations typically reproduce observations better than single star models.
With red supergiants (RSGs) predicted to end their lives as Type IIP core collapse supernova (CCSN), their behaviour before explosion needs to be fully understood. Mass loss rates govern RSG evolution towards SN and have strong implications on the appearance of the resulting explosion. To study how the mass-loss rates change with the evolution of the star, we have measured the amount of circumstellar material around 19 RSGs in a coeval cluster. Our study has shown that mass loss rates ramp up throughout the lifetime of an RSG, with more evolved stars having mass loss rates a factor of 40 higher than early stage RSGs. Interestingly, we have also found evidence for an increase in circumstellar extinction throughout the RSG lifetime, meaning the most evolved stars are most severely affected. We find that, were the most evolved RSGs in NGC2100 to go SN, this extra extinction would cause the progenitor’s initial mass to be underestimated by up to 9M⊙.
Eta Carinae is one of the most massive observable binaries. Yet determination of its orbital and physical parameters is hampered by obscuring winds. However the effects of the strong, colliding winds changes with phase due to the high orbital eccentricity. We wanted to improve measures of the orbital parameters and to determine the mechanisms that produce the relatively brief, phase-locked minimum as detected throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. We conducted intense monitoring of the He ii λ4686 line in η Carinae for 10 months in the year 2014, gathering ~300 high S/N spectra with ground- and space-based telescopes. We also used published spectra at the FOS4 SE polar region of the Homunculus, which views the minimum from a different direction. We used a model in which the He ii λ4686 emission is produced by two mechanisms: a) one linked to the intensity of the wind-wind collision which occurs along the whole orbit and is proportional to the inverse square of the separation between the companion stars; and b) the other produced by the ‘bore hole’ effect which occurs at phases across the periastron passage. The opacity (computed from 3D SPH simulations) as convolved with the emission reproduces the behavior of equivalent widths both for direct and reflected light. Our main results are: a) a demonstration that the He ii λ4686 light curve is exquisitely repeatable from cycle to cycle, contrary to previous claims for large changes; b) an accurate determination of the longitude of periastron, indicating that the secondary star is ‘behind’ the primary at periastron, a dispute extended over the past decade; c) a determination of the time of periastron passage, at ~4 days after the onset of the deep light curve minimum; and d) show that the minimum is simultaneous for observers at different lines of sight, indicating that it is not caused by an eclipse of the secondary star, but rather by the immersion of the wind-wind collision interior to the inner wind of the primary.
Observations with powerful X-ray telescopes, such as XMM-Newton and Chandra, significantly advance our understanding of massive stars. Nearly all early-type stars are X-ray sources. Studies of their X-ray emission provide important diagnostics of stellar winds. High-resolution X-ray spectra of O-type stars are well explained when stellar wind clumping is taking into account, providing further support to a modern picture of stellar winds as non-stationary, inhomogeneous outflows. X-ray variability is detected from such winds, on time scales likely associated with stellar rotation. High-resolution X-ray spectroscopy indicates that the winds of late O-type stars are predominantly in a hot phase. Consequently, X-rays provide the best observational window to study these winds. X-ray spectroscopy of evolved, Wolf-Rayet type, stars allows to probe their powerful metal enhanced winds, while the mechanisms responsible for the X-ray emission of these stars are not yet understood.
Most massive stars are so distant that their angular diameters are too small for direct resolution. However, the observational situation is now much more favorable, thanks to new opportunities available with optical/IR long-baseline interferometry. The Georgia State University Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy Array at Mount Wilson Observatory is a six-telescope instrument with a maximum baseline of 330 meters, which is capable of resolving stellar disks with diameters as small as 0.2 milliarcsec. The distant stars are no longer out of range, and many kinds of investigations are possible. Here we summarize a number of studies involving angular diameter measurements and effective temperature estimates for OB stars, binary and multiple stars (including the σ Orionis system), and outflows in Luminous Blue Variables. An enlarged visitors program will begin in 2017 that will open many opportunities for new programs in high angular resolution astronomy.
We present the first detailed three-dimensional hydrodynamic implicit large eddy simulations of turbulent convection for carbon burning. The simulations start with an initial radial profile mapped from a carbon burning shell within a 15 M⊙ stellar evolution model. We considered 4 resolutions from 1283 to 10243 zones. These simulations confirm that convective boundary mixing (CBM) occurs via turbulent entrainment as in the case of oxygen burning. The expansion of the boundary into the surrounding stable region and the entrainment rate are smaller at the bottom boundary because it is stiffer than the upper boundary. The results of this and similar studies call for improved CBM prescriptions in 1D stellar evolution models.
Cygnus OB2 is a rich and relatively close (d~1.4 kpc) OB association in our Galaxy. It represents an ideal testbed for our theories about self-enrichment processes produced by pollution of the interstellar medium by successive generations of massive stars. Comerón & Pasquali (2012, A&A, 543, A101) found a correlation between the age of young stellar groups in Cygnus OB2 and their Galactic longitude. If is associated with a chemical composition gradient, it could support these self-enrichment processes.
Massive stars are intrinsically rare and therefore present a challenge to understand from a statistical perspective, especially within the Milky Way. We recently conducted follow-up observations to the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) survey that were designed to detect more than 10,000 emission line stars, including WRs, by targeting regions in M31 previously known to host large numbers of young, massive clusters and very young stellar populations. Because of the existing PHAT data, we are able to derive an effective temperature, bolarimetric luminosity, and extinction for each of our detected stars. We report on preliminary results of the massive star population of our dataset and discuss how our results compare to previous studies of massive stars in M31.
Recent spectropolarimetric surveys of bright, hot stars have found that ~10% of OB-type stars contain strong (mostly dipolar) surface magnetic fields (~kG). The prominent paradigm describing the interaction between the stellar winds and the surface magnetic field is the magnetically confined wind shock (MCWS) model. In this model, the stellar wind plasma is forced to move along the closed field loops of the magnetic field, colliding at the magnetic equator, and creating a shock. As the shocked material cools radiatively it will emit X-rays. Therefore, X-ray spectroscopy is a key tool in detecting and characterizing the hot wind material confined by the magnetic fields of these stars. Some B-type stars are found to have very short rotational periods. The effects of the rapid rotation on the X-ray production within the magnetosphere have yet to be explored in detail. The added centrifugal force due to rapid rotation is predicted to cause faster wind outflows along the field lines, leading to higher shock temperatures and harder X-rays. However, this is not observed in all rapidly rotating magnetic B-type stars. In order to address this from a theoretical point of view, we use the X-ray Analytical Dynamical Magnetosphere (XADM) model, originally developed for slow rotators, with an implementation of new rapid rotational physics. Using X-ray spectroscopy from ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope, we observed 5 rapidly rotating B-types stars to add to the previous list of observations. Comparing the observed X-ray luminosity and hardness ratio to that predicted by the XADM allows us to determine the role the added centrifugal force plays in the magnetospheric X-ray emission of these stars.
Large magnetometric surveys have contributed to the detection of an increasing number of magnetic massive stars, and to the recognition of a population of magnetic massive stellar objects with distinct properties. Among these, NGC 1624-2 possesses the largest magnetic field of any O-type star; such a field confines the stellar wind into a circumstellar magnetosphere, which can be probed using observations at different wavelength regimes. Recent optical and X-ray observations suggest that NGC 1624-2’s magnetosphere is much larger than that of any other magnetic O star. By modeling the variations of UV resonance lines, we can constrain its velocity structure. Furthermore, recent spectropolarimetric observations raise the possibility of a more complex field topology than previously expected. Putting all of these multi-wavelength constraints together will allow us to paint a consistent picture of NGC 1624-2 and its surprising behavior, giving us valuable insight into the very nature of massive star magnetospheres.
Over the past two decades a clear relation between Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) and some broad-lined Type Ic Supernovae (SNe) has been observed. The use of spectropolarimetry allows us to directly probe the 3D geometry of the unresolved ejecta of SNe, which can help us better understand the physics of their explosion and the SN-GRB connection. We present 7 epochs of spectropolarimetry of the broad-lined Type Ic SN 2014ad and highlight its similarities with SN 1998bw.
Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are the most advanced stage in the evolution of the most massive stars. The strong feedback provided by these objects and their subsequent supernova (SN) explosions are decisive for a variety of astrophysical topics such as the cosmic matter cycle. Consequently, understanding the properties of WR stars and their evolution is indispensable. A crucial but still not well known quantity determining the evolution of WR stars is their mass-loss rate. Since the mass loss is predicted to increase with metallicity, the feedback provided by these objects and their spectral appearance are expected to be a function of the metal content of their host galaxy. This has severe implications for the role of massive stars in general and the exploration of low metallicity environments in particular. Hitherto, the metallicity dependence of WR star winds was not well studied. In this contribution, we review the results from our comprehensive spectral analyses of WR stars in environments of different metallicities, ranging from slightly super-solar to SMC-like metallicities. Based on these studies, we derived empirical relations for the dependence of the WN mass-loss rates on the metallicity and iron abundance, respectively.