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Astronomy & Astrophysics

A multi-wavelength investigation of the non-thermal radio emitting O-star 9 Sgr+

G. Rauw1,*, R. Blomme2, W.L. Waldron3, M.F. Corcoran4, J.M. Pittard5, A.M.T. Pollock6,7, M.C. Runacres2, H. Sana1,**, I.R. Stevens8 and S. Van Loo2

1 Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique - Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août, Bât B5c, B-4000 Liège (Sart Tilman), Belgium
2 Royal Observatory of Belgium, Avenue Circulaire 3, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium
3 L-3 Communications Analytics Corporation, 1801 McCormick Drive, Suite 170, Largo, MD 20774, USA
4 USRA/HEASARC Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
5 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom
6 Computer & Scientific Co. Ltd., 230 Graham Road, Sheffield S10 3GS, United Kingdom
7 European Space Agency, Vilspa, Apartado 50727, 28080 Madrid, Spain
8 School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom

* Research Associate FNRS, Belgium
** Research Fellow FNRS, Belgium

+ Based on observations with XMM-Newton, an ESA Science Mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member states and the USA (NASA). Also based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory (La Silla, Chile) and with the Very Large Array. The VLA is a facility of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory which is operated by the Associated Universities Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.


     We report the results of a multi-wavelength investigation of the O4 V star 9 Sgr (= HD164794). Our data include observations in the X-ray domain with XMM-Newton, in the radio domain with the VLA as well as optical spectroscopy. 9 Sgr is one of a few presumably single OB stars that display non-thermal radio emission. This phenomenon is attributed to synchrotron emission by relativistic electrons accelerated in strong hydrodynamic shocks in the stellar wind. Given the enormous supply of photospheric UV photons in the wind of 9 Sgr, inverse Compton scattering by these relativistic electrons is a priori expected to generate a non-thermal power law tail in the X-ray spectrum. Our EPIC and RGS spectra of 9 Sgr reveal a more complex situation than expected from this simple theoretical picture. While the bulk of the thermal X-ray emission from 9 Sgr arises most probably in a plasma at temperature ~ 3 x 106 K distributed throughout the wind, the nature of the hard emission in the X-ray spectrum is less clear. Assuming a non-thermal origin, our best fitting model yields a photon index of ≥ 2.9 for the power law component which would imply a low compression ratio of ≤ 1.79 for the shocks responsible for the electron acceleration. However, the hard emission can also be explained by a thermal plasma at a temperature ≥ 2 x 107 K. Our VLA data indicate that the radio emission of 9 Sgr was clearly non-thermal at the time of the XMM-Newton observation. Again, we derive a low compression ratio (1.7) for the shocks that accelerate the electrons responsible for the synchrotron radio emission. Finally, our optical spectra reveal long-term radial velocity variations suggesting that 9 Sgr could be a long-period spectroscopic binary.

Key Words
Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal -- Stars: early-type -- Stars: individual: 9 Sgr -- Stars: winds, outflows -- X-rays: stars

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