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Optically Thick Clumps – Not the Solution to the Wolf-Rayet Wind Momentum Problem?
Astronomy & Astrophysics (2004)
  • J. C. Brown, University of Glasgow
  • J. P. Cassinelli, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Q. Li, Beijing Normal University
  • A. F. Kholtygin
  • R. Ignace, East Tennessee State University

The hot star wind momentum problem eta = M-upsiloninfinity/(L/c) much greater than 1 is revisited, and it is shown that the conventional belief, that it can be solved by a combination of clumping of the wind and multiple scattering of photons, is not self-consistent for optically thick clumps. Clumping does reduce the mass loss rate. M, and hence the momentum supply, required to generate a specified radio emission measure epsilon, while multiple scattering increases the delivery of momentum from a specified stellar luminosity L. However, in the case of thick clumps, when combined the two effects act in opposition rather than in unison since clumping reduces multiple scattering. From basic geometric considerations, it is shown that this reduction in momentum delivery by clumping more than offsets the reduction in momentum required, for a specified epsilon. Thus the ratio of momentum deliverable to momentum required is maximal for a smooth wind and the momentum problem remains for the thick clump case. In the case of thin clumps, all of the benefit of clumping in reducing lies in eta reducing. M for a given epsilon so that extremely small filling factors f approximate to 10(-4) are needed.

It is also shown that clumping affects the inference of M from radio epsilon not only by changing the emission measure per unit mass but also by changing the radio optical depth unity radius R-rad, and hence the observed wind volume, at radio wavelengths. In fact, for free-free opacity proportional to n(2), contrary to intuition, R-rad increases with increasing clumpiness.

Publication Date
October, 2004
Publisher Statement
Copyright © ESO 2004.
Citation Information
J. C. Brown, J. P. Cassinelli, Q. Li, A. F. Kholtygin, and R. Ignace. "Optically Thick Clumps – Not the Solution to the Wolf-Rayet Wind Momentum Problem?" Astronomy & Astrophysics 426.1 (2004): 323-328.
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040500
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