A VLT/FLAMES survey for massive binaries in Westerlund 1

Ritchie, B. W.; Clark, J. S.; Negueruela, I. and Najarro, F. (2022). A VLT/FLAMES survey for massive binaries in Westerlund 1. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 660, article no. A89.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202142405


The galactic cluster Westerlund 1 contains a rich population of evolved, massive stars. A high binary fraction has been inferred from previous multi-wavelength observations.

We use multi-epoch spectroscopy of a large sample of early-type stars in Westerlund 1 to identify new binaries and binary candidates in the cluster.

VLT/FLAMES was used with the GIRAFFE spectrograph in HR21 mode to obtain spectra of ∼100 OB stars over a 14-month baseline in 2008 and 2009, supplemented with follow-up observations in 2011 and 2013. Radial velocities were obtained from strong Paschen series absorption lines in the I-band.

We identify 20 new OB I–III binaries, a WN9h binary, and a WC9d binary, greatly increasing the number of directly confirmed binary systems in Westerlund 1, while 12 O9−9.5 Iab−III stars are identified as candidate binaries based on radial velocity changes that are inconsistent with photospheric variability. The 173.9 day SB1 W1030 represents the first longer-period system identified in the cluster, while the determination of a 53.95 day period for W44 (WR L) makes it the first Wolf-Rayet binary in Westerlund 1 with a confirmed orbital period greater than ten days. Our results suggest the binary fraction in the OB population is at least ∼40%, and may be significantly higher.

These results demonstrate that binary systems can be effectively identified in the population of OB I−III stars evolving off the main sequence in Westerlund 1. Future multi-epoch surveys will be able to fully characterise this population.

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