Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 475, 772-782 (2018/March-3)
Extreme isolation of WN3/O3 stars and implications for their evolutionary origin as the elusive stripped binaries.
SMITH N., GOTBERG Y. and DE MINK S.E.
Abstract (from CDS):
Recent surveys of the Magellanic Clouds have revealed a subtype of Wolf-Rayet (WR) star with peculiar properties. WN3/O3 spectra exhibit both WR-like emission and O3 V-like absorption - but at lower luminosity than O3 V or WN stars. We examine the projected spatial distribution of WN3/O3 stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud as compared to O-type stars. Surprisingly, WN3/O3 stars are among the most isolated of all classes of massive stars; they have a distribution similar to red supergiants dominated by initial masses of 10-15 M☉, and are far more dispersed than classical WR stars or luminous blue variables. Their lack of association with clusters of O-type stars suggests strongly that WN3/O3 stars are not the descendants of single massive stars (30 M☉ or above). Instead, they are likely products of interacting binaries at lower initial mass (10-18 M☉). Comparison with binary models suggests a probable origin with primaries in this mass range that were stripped of their H envelopes through non-conservative mass transfer by a low-mass secondary. We show that model spectra and positions on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for binary-stripped stars are consistent with WN3/O3 stars. Monitoring radial velocities with high-resolution spectra can test for low-mass companions or runaway velocities. With lower initial mass and environments that avoid very massive stars, the WN3/O3 stars fit expectations for progenitors of Type Ib and possibly Type Ibn supernovae.