Coordinated UV and X-Ray Spectroscopic Observations of the O-type Giant ξ Per: The Connection between X-Rays and Large-scale Wind Structure

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We present new, contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope STIS and XMM-Newton observations of the O7 III(n)((f)) star ξ Per. We supplement the new data with archival IUE spectra, to analyze the variability of the wind lines and X-ray flux of ξ Per. The variable wind of this star is known to have a 2.086-day periodicity. We use a simple, heuristic spot model that fits the low-velocity (near-surface) IUE wind line variability very well, to demonstrate that the low-velocity absorption in the new STIS spectra of N iv λ1718 and Si iv λ1402 vary with the same 2.086-day period. It is remarkable that the period and amplitude of the STIS data agree with those of the IUE spectra obtained 22 yr earlier. We also show that the time variability of the new XMM-Newton fluxes is also consistent with the 2.086-day period. Thus, our new, multiwavelength coordinated observations demonstrate that the mechanism that causes the UV wind line variability is also responsible for a significant fraction of the X-rays in single O stars. The sequence of events for the multiwavelength light-curve minima is Si iv λ1402, N iv λ1718, and X-ray flux, each separated by a phase of about 0.06 relative to the 2.086-day period. Analysis of the X-ray fluxes shows that they become softer as they weaken. This is contrary to expectations if the variability is caused by periodic excess absorption. Furthermore, the high-resolution X-ray spectra suggest that the individual emission lines at maximum are more strongly blueshifted. If we interpret the low-velocity wind line light curves in terms of our model, it implies that there are two bright regions, i.e., regions with less absorption, separated by 180°, on the surface of the star. We note that the presence and persistence of two spots separated by 180° suggest that a weak dipole magnetic field is responsible for the variability of the UV wind line absorption and X-ray flux in ξ Per.