Revealing Efficient Dust Formation at Low Metallicity in Extragalactic Carbon-rich Wolf-Rayet Binaries

Ryan M. Lau, Matthew J. Hankins, Mansi M. Kasliwal, Howard E. Bond, Kishalay De, Jacob E. Jencson, Anthony F.J. Moffat, Nathan Smith, Peredur M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We present Spitzer/InfraRed Array Camera observations of dust formation from six extragalactic carbon-rich Wolf-Rayet (WC) binary candidates in low-metallicity (Z ≲ 0.65 Z o˙) environments using multiepoch mid-infrared (IR) imaging data from the SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey (SPIRITS). Optical follow-up spectroscopy of SPIRITS 16ln, 19q, 16df, 18hb, and 14apu reveals emission features from C iv λ5801-12 and/or the C iii-iv λ4650/He ii λ4686 blend that are consistent with early-type WC stars. We identify SPIRITS 16ln as the variable mid-IR counterpart of the recently discovered colliding-wind WC4 + O binary candidate, N604-WRXc, located in the subsolar metallicity NGC 604 H ii region in M33. We interpret the mid-IR variability from SPIRITS 16ln as a dust-formation episode in an eccentric colliding-wind WC binary. SPIRITS 19q, 16df, 14apu, and 18hb exhibit absolute [3.6] magnitudes exceeding that of one of the most IR-luminous dust-forming WC systems known, WR 104 (M [3.6] ≲ -12.3). An analysis of dust formation in the mid-IR outburst from SPIRITS 19q reveals a high dust production rate of M o˙ yr-1, which may therefore exceed that of the most efficient dust-forming WC systems known. We demonstrate that efficient dust formation is feasible from early-type WC binaries in the theoretical framework of colliding-wind binary dust formation if the systems host an O-type companion with high mass-loss rates ( M o˙ yr-1). This efficient dust formation from early-type WC binaries highlights their potential role as significant sources of dust in low-metallicity environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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