Polarization Light Curve Modeling of Corotating Interaction Regions in the Wind of the Wolf-Rayet Star Wr 6

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The intriguing WN4b star WR 6 has been known to display epoch-dependent spectroscopic, photometric and polarimetric variability for several decades. In this paper, we set out to verify if a simplified analytical model in which corotating interaction regions (CIRs) threading an otherwise spherical wind is able to reproduce the many broad-band continuum light curves from the literature with a reasonable set of parameters. We modified the optically thin model developed by Ignace, St-Louis & Proulx-Giraldeau to approximately account for multiple scattering and used it to fit 13 separate data sets of this star. By including two CIRs in the wind, we obtained reasonable fits for all data sets with coherent values for the inclination of the rotation axis (i0 = 166°) and for its orientation in the plane of the sky, although in the latter case we obtained two equally acceptable values (ψ = 63° and 152°) from the polarimetry. Additional line profile variation simulations using the Sobolev approximation for the line transfer allowed us to eliminate the ψ = 152° solution. With the adopted configuration (i0 = 166° and ψ = 63°), we were able to reproduce all data sets relatively well with two CIRs located near the stellar equator and always separated by ∼90° in longitude. The epoch dependence comes from the fact that these CIRs migrate along the surface of the star. Density contrasts smaller than a factor of 2 and large opening angles for the CIR (β⪆35∘) were found to best reproduce the type of spectroscopic variability reported in the literature.

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This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. © 2018 The Royal Astronomical Society. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.