The Binary Fraction of Red Supergiants in the Local Group Galaxies
Kathryn Neugent(University of Washington)
The binary fraction of massive main-sequence OB stars is thought to be as high as 70% or greater. However, until recently, only around a dozen binary red supergiants (RSGs) had been identified, despite the fact that these stars are the evolved descendants of a large portion of OB stars. My research focuses on searching for these "missing" binary RSGs. As dictated by stellar evolution, binary RSGs will likely have B-type companions and such systems will have unique photometric signatures due to the shape of their spectral energy distributions. After observing candidate RSG+B star binaries spectroscopically in the Local Group galaxies of M31, M33 and the Magellanic Clouds, we've discovered over 250 new systems. In this talk I'll discuss how these results have allowed us to place constraints on the binary fraction of RSGs as a function of metallicity and the greater impacts this has on our understanding of massive star evolution, supernovae populations, and the creation of gravitational wave events.