Although we have been able to develop an understanding of many aspects of stellar evolution and formation, a few key gaps remain. One is the fate of massive binary star systems composed of Wolf-Rayet (WR) and O-type stars. In these WR + O binaries, the stellar winds surrounding these stars collide, creating a complex interaction region in which light from the stars scatters and becomes polarized. To study these scattering regions, I employ a technique that allows me to map the polarization of the light emitted from these stars and track its variation over the binary orbit. I found that although we have some models for this behavior, they do not fully reproduce the observed data, suggesting these systems are more complex that previously known. The unexplained behaviors give clues to the complexity of these systems and shows how these models can be improved upon in the future. Understanding the structure and evolution of this scattering region could be the key to understanding the lives and eventual deaths of these stars.
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Yoos, Stella; Hoffman, Jennifer; and Fullard, Andrew
"Perfect Circles: A Study of the Scattering Regions of Wolf Rayet Binary Stars,"
DU Undergraduate Research Journal Archive: Vol. 1
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.du.edu/duurj/vol1/iss2/8