The ionizing source of the bipolar HII region S106: a close massive binary.
S106 is one of the best known bipolar HII regions, thoroughly studied and modelled at infrared, submillimeter and millimeter wavelengths, and it is one of the nearest examples of the late stages of massive star formation in which the newly formed star that ionizes it is still surrounded by vast amounts of gas and dust. However, little is known about its heavily obscured central source, S106IR. The possible binarity of the central source is investigated, which is considered to be likely given the high binarity fraction among massive stars. We have carried out visible and near-infrared photometric monitoring looking for short-term variability, with special interest in that related to the presence of a close binary companion to S106IR that may produce periodic eclipses or tidal distortion of the shape of the members of the system. A periodic variability of S106IR in the J band is found with a period of 5.0 days and an amplitude of about 0.1 mag. The light curve displays a slow rise from minimum to maximum followed by a steep decrease, and can be well reproduced by a close binary system composed of two stars with different luminosity orbiting each other in an elliptical orbit of moderate eccentricity. S106IR also shows hints of short-term variability possibly related to accretion. We also report variability of four other stars previously classified as members of the S106 cluster, all of which are strong X-ray emitters. The newly discovered close binarity of S106IR adds a new element to the modeling of the nebula and to the understanding of the dynamics of the gas around the ionizing source, which suggests that the components of the binary are accreting via a circumbinary disk. Binarity also helps to explain the apparent mismatch between the spectral type of the ionizing source inferred from the nebular spectrum and its high brightness at near-infrared wavelengths.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.08958
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