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Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series


The key empirical property of the X-ray emission from O stars is a strong correlation between the bolometric and X-ray luminosities. In the framework of the Chandra Carina Complex Project, 129 O and B stars have been detected as X-ray sources; 78 of those, all with spectral type earlier than B3, have enough counts for at least a rough X-ray spectral characterization. This leads to an estimate of the L-X-L-BOL ratio for an exceptional number of 60 O stars belonging to the same region and triples the number of Carina massive stars studied spectroscopically in X-rays. The derived log(L-X/L-BOL) is -7.26 for single objects, with a dispersion of only 0.21 dex. Using the properties of hot massive stars listed in the literature, we compare the X-ray luminosities of different types of objects. In the case of O stars, the L-X-L-BOL ratios are similar for bright and faint objects, as well as for stars of different luminosity classes or spectral types. Binaries appear only slightly harder and slightly more luminous in X-rays than single objects; the differences are not formally significant (at the 1% level), except for the L-X-L-BOL ratio in the medium (1.0-2.5 keV) energy band. Weak-wind objects have similar X-ray luminosities but they display slightly softer spectra compared with "normal" O stars with the same bolometric luminosity. Discarding three overluminous objects, we find a very shallow trend of harder emission in brighter objects. The properties of the few B stars bright enough to yield some spectral information appear to be different overall (constant X-ray luminosities, harder spectra), hinting that another mechanism for producing X-rays, besides wind shocks, might be at work. However, it must be stressed that the earliest and X-ray brightest among these few detected objects are similar to the latest O stars, suggesting a possibly smooth transition between the two processes.


This work is freely available courtesy of IOP Publishing and the American Astronomical Society.