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Stripped-envelope stars in different metallicity environments. I. Evolutionary phases, classification, and populations

Abstract : Massive stars that become stripped of their hydrogen envelope through binary interaction or winds can be observed either as Wolf-Rayet stars, if they have optically thick winds, or as transparent-wind stripped-envelope stars. We approximate their evolution through evolutionary models of single helium stars, and compute detailed model grids in the initial mass range 1.5−70 M for metallicities between 0.01 and 0.04, from core helium ignition until core collapse. Throughout their lifetimes some stellar models expose the ash of helium burning. We propose that models that have nitrogen-rich envelopes are candidate WN stars, while models with a carbon-rich surface are candidate WC stars during core helium burning, and WO stars afterwards. We measure the metallicity dependence of the total lifetimes of our models and the duration of their evolutionary phases. We propose an analytic estimate of the wind's optical depth to distinguish models of Wolf-Rayet stars from transparent-wind stripped-envelope stars, and find that the luminosity ranges at which WN-, WC-, and WO-type stars can exist is a strong function of metallicity. We find that all carbon-rich models produced in our grids have optically thick winds and match the luminosity distribution of observed populations. We construct population models and predict the numbers of transparent-wind stripped-envelope stars and Wolf-Rayet stars, and derive their number ratios at different metallicities. We find that as metallicity increases, the number of transparent-wind stripped-envelope stars decreases and the number of Wolf-Rayet stars increases. At high metallicities WC- and WO-type stars become more common. We apply our population models to nearby galaxies, and find that populations are more sensitive to the transition luminosity between Wolf-Rayet stars and transparent-wind helium stars than to the metallicity-dependent mass loss rates.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - 3:24:31 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 4, 2022 - 2:42:24 PM

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David R. Aguilera-Dena, Norbert Langer, John Antoniadis, Daniel Pauli, Luc Dessart, et al.. Stripped-envelope stars in different metallicity environments. I. Evolutionary phases, classification, and populations. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2022, 661, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202142895⟩. ⟨insu-03748276⟩

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