Five Spectroscopic Categories of O-Type Candidate GRB Progenitors

Walborn, Nolan R.; Rojas-Montes, Eliceth; Evans, Chris J.; Maíz Apellaniz, Jesús; Wade, Gregg A.
Massive Stars: From α to Ω, held 10-14 June 2013 in Rhodes, Greece; Online at, id.190 (2013).


Five categories of peculiar O-type stars in the Galaxy and Magellanic Clouds that each combine three or four of the canonical GRB properties of magnetic fields, high mass, rarity, rapid rotation, and runaway space motions are displayed. (1) The Of?p stars were initially isolated as a peculiar spectroscopic category which was later found to undergo spectacular periodic variations; they are now understood as the most massive oblique magnetic rotators. All five Galactic members plus two related objects now have magnetic field detections, including one of 20 kG, with rotational periods ranging from a week to >50 yrs. There are also three spectroscopic members in the MCs, for which magnetic observations remain to be undertaken. (2) The ONn stars are rapidly rotating, nitrogen-rich, late-O giants at least several of which are runaways. (3) The Onfp stars are another category first described in terms of certain spectral peculiarities; they are now known to be massive, evolved rapid rotators with strong winds, which theoretically should not exist in the single-star regime. Many are in binary systems, perhaps spun up by mass transfer, while others may be mergers, and at least some are runaways. This category calls into question the assumption that GRBs can occur only at low metallicity where weaker winds allow high rotation to be preserved in evolved objects. (4) A population of young extreme rotators, including the two most rapid known at v sin i of 600 km/sec, lies at the peripheries of the 30 Doradus ionizing clusters. Peculiar radial velocities as well as their locations support an ejection hypothesis, currently under further investigation by means of proper motions. (5) At least two extremely massive O2 stars have also been ejected from 30 Doradus, most likely by dynamical processes since there have not yet been any SN in the dense central cluster R136. Presumably all of these stars must reach LBV and/or WR stages before collapsing, so they are not immediate GRB progenitors, but rather their precursors that provide information about their origins.