A changing wind collision
Publication date: 02 February 2018
Authors: Y. Nazé et al.
Journal: Astrophysical Journal
We report on the first detection of a global change in the X-ray emitting properties of a wind–wind collision, thanks to XMM-Newton observations of the massive Small Magellenic Cloud (SMC) system HD 5980. While its light curve had remained unchanged between 2000 and 2005, the X-ray flux has now increased by a factor of ~2.5, and slightly hardened. The new observations also extend the observational coverage over the entire orbit, pinpointing the light-curve shape. It has not varied much despite the large overall brightening, and a tight correlation of fluxes with orbital separation is found without any hysteresis effect. Moreover, the absence of eclipses and of absorption effects related to orientation suggests a large size for the X-ray emitting region. Simple analytical models of the wind–wind collision, considering the varying wind properties of the eruptive component in HD 5980, are able to reproduce the recent hardening and the flux-separation relationship, at least qualitatively, but they predict a hardening at apastron and little change in mean flux, contrary to observations. The brightness change could then possibly be related to a recently theorized phenomenon linked to the varying strength of thin-shell instabilities in shocked wind regions.Link to publication