Gemini/GNIRS infrared spectroscopy of theWolf-Rayet stellar wind in Cygnus X-3

K. I.I. Koljonen, T. J. Maccarone

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19 Scopus citations


The microquasar Cygnus X-3 was observed several times with the Gemini North Infrared Spectrograph while the source was in the hard X-ray state. We describe the observed 1.0-2.4 μm spectra as arising from the stellar wind of the companion star and suggest its classification as a WN 4-6 Wolf-Rayet star. We attribute the orbital variations of the emission line profiles to the variations in the ionization structure of the stellar wind caused by the intense X-ray emission from the compact object. The strong variability observed in the line profiles will affect the mass function determination.We are unable to reproduce earlier results, from which the mass function for the Wolf-Rayet star was derived. Instead, we suggest that the system parameters are difficult to obtain from the infrared spectra. We find that the near-infrared continuum and the line spectra can be represented with non-LTE Wolf-Rayet atmosphere models if taking into account the effects arising from the peculiar ionization structure of the stellar wind in an approximative manner. From the representative models we infer the properties of theWolf-Rayet star and discuss possible mass ranges for the binary components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2181-2195
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Binaries: close
  • Infrared: stars
  • Line: profiles
  • Stars: Wolf-Rayet
  • Stars: individual: Cyg X-3
  • Stars: winds, outflows


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