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Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik

Abteilung Astronomie

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Preprint 14/07

Identification of NeVIII lines in H-deficient (pre-) white dwarfs: a new tool to constrain the temperature of the hottest stars

K. Werner (1), T. Rauch (1), J.W. Kruk (2)

(1) Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics, Institute for Astronomy und Astrophysics, Eberhard-Karls University, Tübingen, Germany
(2) Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, U.S.A.

A&A 474 591-597 (2007)

Abstract. For the first time, we have identified NeVIII absorption lines in far-UV spectra of the hottest known (Teff>150,000 K) hydrogen-deficient (pre-) white dwarfs of spectral type PG1159. They are of photospheric origin and can be matched by synthetic non-LTE line profiles. We also show that a number of UV and optical emission lines in these stars can be explained as being photospheric NeVIII features and not, as hitherto suspected, as ultrahigh ionised OVIII lines created along shock-zones in the stellar wind. Consequently, we argue that the long-standing identification of the same emission lines in hot [WR]-type central stars as being due to ultrahigh-ionised species (OVII-VIII, CV-VI) must be revised. These lines can be entirely attributed to thermally excited species (NeVII-VIII, NV, OVI). Photospheric NeVIII lines are also identified in the hottest known He-rich white dwarf KPD0005+5106 some of which were also attributed to OVIII previously. This is a surprise because it must be concluded that KPD0005+5106 is much hotter (Teff=200,000 K) than hitherto assumed (Teff=120,000 K). This is confirmed by a re-assessment of the HeII line spectrum. We speculate that the temperature is high enough to explain the mysterious, hard X-ray emission (1 keV) as being of photospheric origin.

Preprint (410 kb PDF file including figures)
Astrophysics (astro-ph): 0709.0097

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