An artist’s rendering of a colliding wind binary.
A colliding-wind binary is a binary star system in which the two members are massive stars that emit powerful, radiatively-driven stellar winds. The location where these two winds collide produces a strong shock front that can cause radio, X-ray and possibly synchrotron radiation emission. Wind compression in the bow shock region between the two stellar winds allows dust formation. When this dust streams away from the orbiting pair, it can form a pinwheel nebula of spiraling dust. Such pinwheels have been observed in the Quintuplet Cluster.
The archetype of such a colliding-wind binary system is WR140 (HD 193793), which consists of a 20 solar massWolf-Rayet star orbiting about a 50 solar mass, spectral classO4-5 main sequence star every 7.9 years. The high orbital eccentricity of the pair allows astronomers to observe changes the colliding winds…
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