Wind variability in the large magellanic cloud B[e] supergiant HD 34664

R. E. Schulte-Ladbeck, University of Pittsburgh
G. C. Clayton, University of Colorado Boulder


We present optical linear spectropolarimetry of the B[e] supergiant HD 34664. The polarization and position angle display significant spectral features which correspond to the Hα and Hβ emission lines. We use the line polarizations to separate the interstellar foreground polarization from the intrinsic polarization of HD 34664. The intrinsic polarization is consistent with electron scattering in a circumstellar disk seen at high inclination and provides further and independent evidence for the two-component wind model of the B[e] supergiants. We compare the polarization and spectrum of HD 34664 to observations published in the literature. In our data the continuum polarization is by a factor of two larger and the Hα line-to-continuum ratio is by a factor of at least four increased over previous observations. Since both the polarization and the line intensity are measures of the electron density in the stellar wind, we suggest that the observed variations can be attributed to a rise in the stellar mass-loss rate.