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New Mass Estimates for Massive Binary Systems: A Probabilistic Approach Using Polarimetric Radiative Transfer

Fullard, AG, O'Brien, JT, Kerzendorf, WE, Shrestha, M, Hoffman, JL, Ignace, R and Van Der Smagt, P (2022) New Mass Estimates for Massive Binary Systems: A Probabilistic Approach Using Polarimetric Radiative Transfer. Astrophysical Journal, 930 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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Understanding the evolution of massive binary stars requires accurate estimates of their masses. This understanding is critically important because massive star evolution can potentially lead to gravitational-wave sources such as binary black holes or neutron stars. For Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars with optically thick stellar winds, their masses can only be determined with accurate inclination angle estimates from binary systems which have spectroscopic Msini measurements. Orbitally phased polarization signals can encode the inclination angle of binary systems, where the WR winds act as scattering regions. We investigated four Wolf-Rayet + O star binary systems, WR 42, WR 79, WR 127, and WR 153, with publicly available phased polarization data to estimate their masses. To avoid the biases present in analytic models of polarization while retaining computational expediency, we used a Monte Carlo radiative-transfer model accurately emulated by a neural network. We used the emulated model to investigate the posterior distribution of the parameters of our four systems. Our mass estimates calculated from the estimated inclination angles put strong constraints on existing mass estimates for three of the systems, and disagree with the existing mass estimates for WR 153. We recommend a concerted effort to obtain polarization observations that can be used to estimate the masses of WR binary systems and increase our understanding of their evolutionary paths.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Astronomy & Astrophysics; 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences; 0202 Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics; 0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society; IOP Publishing
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2022 16:21
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 16:30
DOI or ID number: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac589e
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17996
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