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Title: A close encounter of the massive kind
Authors: Maíz Apellániz, J.; Sana, H.; Barbá, R. H.; Le Bouquin, J. -B.; Gamen, R. C.
Affiliation: Maíz Apellániz, J.: Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA, Campus ESAC, Camino bajo del castillo s/n, E-28 692 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
Sana, H.: Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 D, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium
Barbá, R. H.: Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Universidad de La Serena, Av. Cisternas 1200 Norte, La Serena, Chile
Le Bouquin, J. -B.: Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) UMR 5274, F-38 041 Grenoble, France
Gamen, R. C.: Instituto de Astrofísica de La Plata (CONICET, UNLP), Paseo del Bosque s/n, 1900 La Plata, Argentina.
Publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 464, Issue 3, p.3561-3567
Date: 01/2017
Keywords: ephemerides; binaries: visual; stars: individual: HD 93 129 Aa; Ab; stars: kinematics and dynamics; stars: winds; outflows; X-rays: stars; Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw2618
ADS: 2017MNRAS.464.3561M  [Bibtex entry]


We have used (I) Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys imaging and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph spectroscopy, (II) ground-based Precision Integrated-Optics Near-infrared Imaging ExpeRiment/Very Large Telescope long-baseline interferometry, and (III) ground-based spectroscopy from different instruments to study the orbit of the extreme multiple system HD 93 129 Aa,Ab, which is composed of (at least) two very massive stars in a long-period orbit with e > 0.92, which will pass through periastron in 2017/2018. In several ways, the system is an η Car precursor. Around the time of periastron passage, the two very strong winds will collide and generate an outburst of non-thermal hard X-ray emission without precedent in an O+O binary since astronomers have been able to observe above Earth's atmosphere. A coordinated multiwavelength monitoring in the next two years will enable a breakthrough understanding of the wind interactions in such extreme close encounters. Furthermore, we have found evidence that HD 93 129 Aa may be a binary system itself. In that case, we could witness a three-body interaction which may yield a runaway star or a stellar collision close to or shortly after the periastron passage. Either of those outcomes would be unprecedented, as they are predicted to be low-frequency events in the Milky Way.

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