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

Gregor Rauw, R Blomme, WL Waldron, MF Corcoran, Julian Pittard, AMT Pollock, M Runacres, Ian Stevens

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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 similar to3 x 10(6) 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 greater than or equal to2.9 for the power law component which would imply a low compression ratio of less than or equal to1.79 for the shocks responsible for the electron acceleration. However, the hard emission can also be explained by a thermal plasma at a temperature greater than or equal to2 x 10(7) 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1008
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002


  • stars : early-type
  • X-rays : stars
  • stars : winds, outflows
  • radiation mechanisms : non-thermal
  • stars : individual : 9 Sgr


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