γ Cas is the prototypical classical Be star and is recently best known for its variable hard X-ray emission. To elucidate the reasons for this emission, we mounted a multiwavelength campaign in 2010 centered around four XMM-Newton observations. The observational techniques included long baseline optical interferometry (LBOI) from two instruments at CHARA, photometry carried out by an automated photometric telescope and Hα observations. Because γ Cas is also known to be in a binary, we measured radial velocities from the Hα line and redetermined its period as 203.55 ± 0.20 days and its eccentricity as near zero. The LBOI observations suggest that the star’s decretion disk was axisymmetric in 2010, has an system inclination angle near 45°, and a larger radius than previously reported. In addition, the Be star began an “outburst” at the beginning of our campaign, made visible by a brightening and reddening of the disk during our campaign and beyond. Our analyses of the new high resolution spectra disclosed many attributes also found from spectra obtained in 2001 (Chandra) and 2004 (XMM-Newton). As well as a dominant hot ( ≈ 14 keV) thermal component, the familiar attributes included: (i) a fluorescent feature of Fe K even stronger than observed at previous times; (ii) strong lines of N VII and Ne XI lines indicative of overabundances; and (iii) a subsolar Fe abundance from K-shell lines but a solar abundance from L-shell ions. We also found that two absorption columns are required to fit the continuum. While the first one maintained its historical average of 1 × 1021 cm-2, the second was very large and doubled to 7.4 × 1023 cm-2 during our X-ray observations. Although we found no clear relation between this column density and orbital phase, it correlates well with the disk brightening and reddening both in the 2010 and earlier observations. Thus, the inference from this study is that much (perhaps all?) of the X-ray emission from this source originates behind matter ejected by γ Cas into our line of sight.
The relationship between γ Cassiopeiae’s X-ray emission and its circumstellar environment M. A. Smith, R. Lopes de Oliveira, C. Motch, G. W. Henry, N. D. Richardson, K. S. Bjorkman, Ph. Stee, D. Mourard, J. D. Monnier, X. Che, R. Bücke, E. Pollmann, D. R. Gies, G. H Schaefer, T. ten Brummelaar, H. A. McAlister, N. H. Turner, J. Sturmann, L. Sturmann and S. T. Ridgway A&A, 540 (2012) A53 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201118342