Nolan R. Walborn

Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (241)718.94 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The evolution and fate of very massive stars (VMS) is tightly connected to their mass-loss properties. Their initial and final masses differ significantly as a result of mass loss. VMS have strong stellar winds and extremely high ionising fluxes, which are thought to be critical sources of both mechanical and radiative feedback in giant Hii regions. However, how VMS mass-loss properties change during stellar evolution is poorly understood. In the framework of the VLT-Flames Tarantula Survey (VFTS), we explore the mass-loss transition region from optically thin O to denser WNh star winds, thereby testing theoretical predictions. To this purpose we select 62 O, Of, Of/WN, and WNh stars, an unprecedented sample of stars with the highest masses and luminosities known. We perform a spectral analysis of optical VFTS as well as near-infrared VLT/SINFONI data using the non-LTE radiative transfer code CMFGEN to obtain stellar and wind parameters. For the first time, we observationally resolve the transition between optically thin O and optically thick WNh star winds. Our results suggest the existence of a kink between both mass-loss regimes, in agreement with recent MC simulations. For the optically thick regime, we confirm the steep dependence on the Eddington factor from previous theoretical and observational studies. The transition occurs on the MS near a luminosity of 10^6.1Lsun, or a mass of 80...90Msun. Above this limit, we find that - even when accounting for moderate wind clumping (with f = 0.1) - wind mass-loss rates are enhanced with respect to standard prescriptions currently adopted in stellar evolution calculations. We also show that this results in substantial helium surface enrichment. Based on our spectroscopic analyses, we are able to provide the most accurate ionising fluxes for VMS known to date, confirming the pivotal role of VMS in ionising and shaping their environments.
    07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present follow-up optical imaging and spectroscopy of one of the light echoes of $\eta$ Carinae's 19th-century Great Eruption discovered by Rest et al. (2012). By obtaining images and spectra at the same light echo position between 2011 and 2014, we follow the evolution of the Great Eruption on a three-year timescale. We find remarkable changes in the photometric and spectroscopic evolution of the echo light. The $i$-band light curve shows a decline of $\sim 0.9$ mag in $\sim 1$ year after the peak observed in early 2011 and a flattening at later times. The spectra show a pure-absorption early G-type stellar spectrum at peak, but a few months after peak the lines of the [Ca II] triplet develop strong P-Cygni profiles and we see the appearance of [Ca II] 7291,7324 doublet in emission. These emission features and their evolution in time resemble the spectra of some Type IIn supernovae and supernova impostors. Most surprisingly, starting $\sim 300$ days after peak brightness, the spectra show strong molecular transitions of CN at $\gtrsim 6800$ \AA. The appearance of these CN features can be explained if the ejecta are strongly Nitrogen enhanced, as it is observed in modern spectroscopic studies of the bipolar Homunculus nebula. Given the spectroscopic evolution of the light echo, velocities of the main features, and detection of strong CN, we are likely seeing ejecta that contributes directly to the Homunculus nebula.
    03/2014; 787(1).
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    ABSTRACT: We present the second installment of GOSSS, a massive spectroscopic survey of Galactic O stars, based on new homogeneous, high signal-to-noise ratio, R ~ 2500 digital observations from both hemispheres selected from the Galactic O-Star Catalog (GOSC). In this paper we include bright stars and other objects drawn mostly from the first version of GOSC, all of them south of delta = -20 degrees, for a total number of 258 O stars. We also revise the northern sample of paper I to provide the full list of spectroscopically classified Galactic O stars complete to B = 8, bringing the total number of published GOSSS stars to 448. Extensive sequences of exceptional objects are given, including the early Of/WN, O Iafpe, Ofc, ON/OC, Onfp, Of?p, and Oe types, as well as double/triple-lined spectroscopic binaries. The new spectral subtype O9.2 is also discussed. The magnitude and spatial distributions of the observed sample are analyzed. We also present new results from OWN, a multi-epoch high-resolution spectroscopic survey coordinated with GOSSS that is assembling the largest sample of Galactic spectroscopic massive binaries ever attained. The OWN data combined with additional information on spectroscopic and visual binaries from the literature indicate that only a very small fraction (if any) of the stars with masses above 15-20 M_Sol are born as single systems. In the future we will publish the rest of the GOSSS survey, which is expected to include over 1000 Galactic O stars.
    The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 03/2014; 211(1):10-93. · 16.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Detailed spectral classifications are presented for 352 O-B0 stars in the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey, of which 213 O-type are of sufficient quality for further morphological analysis. Among them, six subcategories of special interest are distinguished. (1) Several new examples of the earliest spectral types O2-O3 have been found. (2) A group of extremely rapidly rotating main-sequence objects has been isolated, including the largest $v\sin i$ values known, the spatial and radial-velocity distributions of which suggest ejection from the two principal ionizing clusters. (3) Several new examples of the evolved, rapidly rotating Onfp class show similar evidence. (4) No fewer than 48 members of the Vz category, hypothesized to be on or near the ZAMS, are found in this sample; in contrast to the rapid rotators, they are strongly concentrated to the ionizing clusters, supporting their interpretation as very young objects, as do their relatively faint absolute magnitudes. (5) A surprisingly large fraction of the main-sequence spectra belong to the recently recognized V((fc)) class, with C III emission lines of similar strength to the usual N III in V((f)) spectra; there are also six objects with very high-quality data but no trace of either mission feature, presenting new challenges to physical interpretations. (6) Five spectra with morphologically enhanced nitrogen lines have been detected. Absolute visual magnitudes have been derived for each star with individual extinction laws, and composite HRDs provide evidence of the multiple generations present in this field. Associations with X-ray sources are noted. Further analyses of this unique dataset underway will provide new insights into the evolution of massive stars and starburst clusters.
    02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Context: The commonly used extinction laws of Cardelli et al. (1989) have limitations that, among other issues, hamper the determination of the effective temperatures of O and early B stars from optical+NIR photometry. Aims: We aim to develop a new family of extinction laws for 30 Doradus, check their general applicability within that region and elsewhere, and apply them to test the feasibility of using optical+NIR photometry to determine the effective temperature of OB stars. Methods: We use spectroscopy and NIR photometry from the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey and optical photometry from HST/WFC3 of 30 Doradus and we analyze them with the software code CHORIZOS using different assumptions such as the family of extinction laws. Results: We derive a new family of optical+NIR extinction laws for 30 Doradus and confirm its applicability to extinguished Galactic O-type systems. We conclude that by using the new extinction laws it is possible to measure the effective temperatures of OB stars with moderate uncertainties and only a small bias, at least up to E(4405-5495) ~ 1.5 mag.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2014; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyze spatially resolved, long-slit ultraviolet (UV) and optical stellar spectra of the compact starburst cluster R136 at the core of 30 Doradus. R136 is young and massive, making it an ideal place to study the upper end of the initial mass function. These spectra, taken with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope, cover over 100 stars in the inner 4 arcseconds (1 parsec) of R136, a region which cannot be resolved with ground-based spectroscopy. In this poster we present both the UV and optical of over 20 of the brightest stars in R136, extracted with MULTISPEC, a tool written specifically for multiple objects in crowded fields. For each star we present an optical spectral type and a terminal wind velocity derived from the UV data
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: AIMS. We test the hypothesis of O Vz stars (characterized by having HeII4686 stronger in absorption than other He lines in their blue-violet spectra) being at a younger evolutionary stage than are normal O-type dwarfs. METHODS. We have performed a quantitative spectroscopic analysis of a sample of 38 O Vz and 46 O V stars, identified by the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). We obtained the stellar and wind parameters of both samples using the FASTWIND stellar atmosphere code and the IACOB-GBAT grid-based automatic tool. In the framework of a differential study, we compared the physical and evolutionary properties of both samples, regarding Teff, logg, logQ and logL. We also investigated the predictions of the FASTWIND code about the O Vz phenomenon. RESULTS. We find a differential distribution of objects in terms of effective temperature, with O Vz stars dominant at intermediate values. The O Vz stars in 30 Doradus tend to be younger and less luminous, and they have weaker winds than the O V stars, but we also find examples with ages of 2-4 Myr and with luminosities and winds that are similar to those of normal O dwarfs. Moreover, the O Vz stars do not appear to have higher gravities than the O V stars. In addition to effective temperature and wind strength, our FASTWIND predictions indicate how important it is to take other stellar parameters (gravity and projected rotational velocity) into account for correctly interpreting the O Vz phenomenon. CONCLUSIONS. In general, the O Vz stars appear to be on or very close to the ZAMS, but there are some examples where the Vz classification does not necessarily imply extreme youth. In particular, the presence of O Vz stars in our sample at more evolved phases than expected is likely a consequence of modest O-star winds owing to the low-metallicity environment of the LMC.
    12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We present results of a high angular resolution survey of massive OB stars in the Cygnus OB2 association that we conducted with the Fine Guidance Sensor 1R (FGS1r) on the Hubble Space Telescope. FGS1r is able to resolve binary systems with a magnitude difference delta-V < 4 down to separations as small as 0.01 arcsec. The sample includes 58 of the brighter members of Cyg OB2, one of the closest examples of an environment containing a large number of very young and massive stars. We resolved binary companions for 12 targets and confirmed the triple nature of one other target, and we offer evidence of marginally resolved companions for two additional stars. We confirm the binary nature of 11 of these systems from complementary adaptive optics imaging observations. The overall binary frequency in our study is 22% to 26% corresponding to orbital periods ranging from 20 - 20,000 years. When combined with the known short-period spectroscopic binaries, the results supports the hypothesis that the binary fraction among massive stars is > 60%. One of the new discoveries is a companion to the hypergiant star MT 304 = Cyg OB2-12, and future measurements of orbital motion should provide mass estimates for this very luminous star.
    The Astronomical Journal 11/2013; 147(2). · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    R. H. Barbá, N. R. Walborn, M. Rubio
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    ABSTRACT: There is ample evidence for current star formation within the 30 Doradus nebula, in and just beyond the curved nebular filaments surrounding R 136. These filaments appear to be "star-forming fronts" moving into the dense dust clouds beyond. This evidence comes from the intercomparison of groundbased IR continuum, H2, and Brγ observations with HST/WFPC2 narrow and broadband images of the inner 30 Doradus nebula. Numerous heavily embedded massive stars have been discovered in or near the bright nebular filaments west and northeast of R 136, and their locations are intimately connected with bright and dark nebular structures. Optical spectral classifications of early O stars in dense nebular knots and CO data also contribute to the emerging picture, which suggests that a new stellar generation is being triggered by the energetic activity of the massive central cluster around its periphery.
    Revista mexicana de astronomia y astrofisica serie conf. 08/2013; 8:161-169.
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    Nolan R. Walborn, Rodolfo H. Barba
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    ABSTRACT: The increasing evidence for current star formation within 30 Doradus Nebula is reviewd and illustrated. A new stellar generations appears to have triggered by massive central cluster (R136), in and just beyond the surrounding, curved nebular filaments. The filaments appear to be 'star formation fronts' moving into the dense clouds beyond. The evidence consists of IR continuum and H2 sources, and a water maser, early O dwarfs embedded in dense nebular knots, and intricate bright and dark nebular structures in HST/WFPC2 images which are signatures of star-formation activity. 30 Doradus is the nearest and hence most highly resolved extragalactic starburst; an understanding of its complex structure and evolution is essential for interpreting the integrated properties of more distant, unresolved starburst regions. Two stage starbursts, in which an initial massive, centrally condensed generation subsequently triggers a secondary event around its periphery, may be characteristic of star formation on this scale.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 08/2013; 131:336. · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We compile the first comprehensive census of hot luminous stars in the 30 Doradus (30 Dor) star forming region of the LMC. The census extends to a radius of 10arcmin (150pc) from the central cluster, R136. Stars were selected photometrically and combined with the latest spectral types. 1145 candidate hot luminous stars were identified of which >700 were considered genuine early type stars that contribute to feedback. We assess the spectroscopic completeness to be 85% in outer regions (>5pc) but fall to 35% in the vicinity of R136, giving a total of 500 hot luminous stars with spectroscopy. Stellar calibrations and models were used to obtain their physical parameters before integrated values were compared to global observations and the population synthesis code, Starburst99. The 31 W-R and Of/WN stars made large contributions to the total ionising and wind luminosities of ~40% and ~50%, respectively. Stars with Minit>100Msun also showed high contributions to the global feedback, ~25% in both cases. Such massive stars are not accounted for by the current Starburst99 code, which underestimated the ionising and wind luminosities of R136 by factors of ~2 and ~9, respectively. The census inferred a SFR of 0.073+/-0.04Msun/yr for 30 Dor, typically higher than results from popular SFR calibrations. However, it remained consistent with a far-UV luminosity tracer and a combined Halpha and mid-infrared tracer, but only after correcting for Halpha extinction. The global ionising output exceeded measurements from the associated gas and dust, suggesting ~6(+55/-6)% of ionising photons escape the region. When studying very luminous star forming regions, it is therefore essential to include the most massive stars to ensure a reliable energy budget. If 30 Dor is typical of other large star forming regions, estimates of the SFR will be underpredicted if this escape fraction is not accounted for.(abridged)
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 08/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A census was compiled of all the hot luminous stars within the central 10 arcminutes of 30 Doradus. Candidate hot luminous stars were selected from a series of photometric catalogues, using a set of criteria explained in the paper. All stars meeting this photometric criteria are listed in Tabled1.dat. In addition, Table D1 includes all known Wolf-Rayet and Of/WN stars in the region, which may not have been selected due to photometric effects. Spectral Types were then matched to as many of the candidate stars in Tabled1.dat as possible. Stellar parameters were determined for all stars with the following spectral types: W-R, Of/WN, O-type, B-supergiant, B-giant B1I or earlier, B-dwarf, B0.5V or earlier. These parameters are listed in Tabled2.dat. Parameters of all O-type and B-type stars were derived through various calibrations. Parameters of W-R and Of/WN stars were based on previous work or various template models explained in the paper. (2 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 08/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The Galactic O-Star Spectroscopic Survey (GOSSS) is obtaining high quality R~2500 blue-violet spectroscopy of all Galactic stars ever classified as of O type with B < 12 and a significant fraction of those with B = 12-14. As of June 2013, we have obtained, processed, and classified 2653 spectra of 1593 stars, including all of the sample with B < 8 and most of the sample with B = 8-10, making GOSSS already the largest collection of high quality O-star optical spectra ever assembled by a factor of 3. We discuss the fraction of false positives (stars classified as O in previous works that do not belong to that class) and the implications of the observed magnitude distribution for the spatial distribution of massive stars and dust within a few kpc of the Sun. We also present new spectrograms for some of the interesting objects in the sample and show applications of GOSSS data to the study of the intervening ISM. Finally, we present the new version of the Galactic O-Star Catalog (GOSC), which incorporates the data in GOSSS-DR1, and we discuss our plans for MGB, an interactive spectral classification tool for OB stars.
    Massive Stars: From α to Ω. 06/2013;
  • Massive Stars: From alpha to Omega; 06/2013
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    N. R. Walborn, R. H. Barbá, M. M. Sewilo
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    ABSTRACT: The most luminous Spitzer point sources in the 30 Doradus triggered second generation are investigated coherently in the 3-8 μm region. Remarkable diversity and complexity in their natures are revealed. Some are also among the brightest JHK sources, while others are not. Several of them are multiple when examined at higher angular resolutions with Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS and WFPC2/WFC3 as available, or with VISTA/VMC otherwise. One is a dusty compact H II region near the far northwestern edge of the complex, containing a half-dozen bright I-band sources. Three others appear closely associated with luminous WN stars and causal connections are suggested. Some are in the heads of dust pillars oriented toward R136, as previously discussed from the NICMOS data. One resides in a compact cluster of much fainter sources, while another appears monolithic at the highest resolutions. Surprisingly, one is the brighter of the two extended "mystery spots" associated with Knot 2 of Walborn et al. Masses are derived from young stellar object models for unresolved sources and lie in the 10-30 M ⊙ range. Further analysis of the IR sources in this unique region will advance understanding of triggered massive star formation, perhaps in some unexpected and unprecedented ways.
    The Astronomical Journal 04/2013; 145(4):98. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present for the first time phase-resolved UV spectroscopy of an Of?p star, namely, HD 191612. The observations were acquired with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on-board the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). We report the variability observed in the main photospheric and wind features and compare the results with previous findings for the Of?p star HD 108. We show that UV line strengths, H(alpha), and longitudinal magnetic field, vary coherently according to the rotational period (P = 537.6d), providing additional support for the magnetic oblique rotator scenario. The stellar and wind parameters of HD 191612 are obtained based on NLTE expanding atmosphere models. The peculiar wind line profile variations revealed by the new STIS data - not reproduced by 1D atmosphere models - are addressed through non-spherical MHD simulations coupled with radiative transfer. The basic aspects of the UV variability observed are explained and the structure of the dynamical magnetosphere of HD 191612 is discussed.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2013; 431(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    Nolan R. Walborn, Rodolfo H. Barba, Marta M. Sewilo
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    ABSTRACT: The most luminous Spitzer point sources in the 30 Doradus triggered second generation are investigated coherently in the 3-8 micron region. Remarkable diversity and complexity in their natures are revealed. Some are also among the brightest JHK sources, while others are not. Several of them are multiple when examined at higher angular resolutions with HST NICMOS and WFPC2/WFC3 as available, or with VISTA/VMC otherwise. One is a dusty compact H II region near the far northwestern edge of the complex, containing a half dozen bright I-band sources. Three others appear closely associated with luminous WN stars and causal connections are suggested. Some are in the heads of dust pillars oriented toward R136, as previously discussed from the NICMOS data. One resides in a compact cluster of much fainter sources, while another appears monolithic at the highest resolutions. Surprisingly, one is the brighter of the two extended "mystery spots" associated with Knot 2 of Walborn et al. Masses are derived from YSO models for unresolved sources and lie in the 10-30 M_{sun} range. Further analysis of the IR sources in this unique region will advance understanding of triggered massive star formation, perhaps in some unexpected and unprecedented ways.
    02/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Radial velocity (RV) measurements and multiplicity status of 332 O-type stars observed at multi-epochs as part as the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. (3 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 02/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We observed the spectrum of HD 120678 from the Complejo Astronomico El Leoncito (CASLEO) in Argentina, as well as from the La Silla (ESO) and Las Campanas (LCO) Observatories in Chile, during several nights between May 2006 and September 2011. Most of the observations were obtained with the echelle spectrographs attached to the 2m class telescopes of these observatories. Three additional spectrograms were taken with the MIKE spectrograph at the 6.5m LCO/Magellan II (Clay) telescope. Two more spectrograms were obtained with the Boller & Chivens (B&C) spectrograph attached to the 2.5m LCO/du Pont telescope in the context of the GOSSS project. The 10 spectra are shown in the Figure 1. (3 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 01/2013; 354:69092.
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    ABSTRACT: R136 is a young, large starburst cluster in 30 Doradus. Its size and age make R136 an ideal cluster in which to study the massive end of the initial mass function (IMF), including stars up to 300 solar masses. In HST GO programs 12465 and 13052, the 52x0.2 arcsec slit of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is stepped across the inner 4 arcsecs of R136. Seventeen consecutive slit locations in both the far ultra-violet (FUV) and optical provide low and medium resolution long-slit spectroscopy of over 100 stars in the region, many of which have never been resolved. The FUV data are combined into a single spectrum to simulate the observation of a more distant unresolved cluster. We present a comparison of individual spectra with the integrated cluster spectrum to determine the relative flux contributions of the brightest cluster members.
    01/2013;

Publication Stats

2k Citations
718.94 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1987–2014
    • Space Telescope Science Institute
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2012
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2011
    • University of Leeds
      • School of Physics and Astronomy
      Leeds, England, United Kingdom
    • Université du Québec à Montréal
      • Department of Music
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada