Radio Variability From Corotating Interaction Regions Threading Wolf-Rayet Winds

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The structured winds of single massive stars can be classified into two broad groups: stochastic structure and organized structure. While the former is typically identified with clumping, the latter is typically associated with rotational modulations, particularly the paradigm of corotating interaction regions (CIRs). While CIRs have been explored extensively in the ultraviolet band, and moderately in the X-ray and optical, here we evaluate radio variability from CIR structures assuming free-free opacity in a dense wind. Our goal is to conduct a broad parameter study to assess the observational feasibility, and to this end, we adopt a phenomenological model for a CIR that threads an otherwise spherical wind. We find that under reasonable assumptions, it is possible to obtain radio variability at the 10 per cent level. The detailed structure of the folded light curve depends not only on the curvature of the CIR, the density contrast of the CIR relative to the wind, and viewing inclination, but also on wavelength. Comparing light curves at different wavelengths, we find that the amplitude can change, that there can be phase shifts in the waveform, and the entire waveform itself can change. These characterstics could be exploited to detect the presence of CIRs in dense, hot winds.