[en] STARS: INDIVIDUAL CONSTELLATION NAME: EZ CANIS MAJORIS ; STARS: MASS LOSS ; STARS: WOLF-RAYET ; ULTRAVIOLET: STARS
[en] We have carried out optical spectroscopy of the Wolf-Rayet star EZ CMa during 20 consecutive nights in 1995 January in support of the IUE Mega-project. In parallel with this optical spectroscopy, we also monitored EZ CMa using narrowband photometry. The light curve was found to be remarkably stable when folded with the P=3.77 day period, and it had a peak-to-valley amplitude of 0.1 mag. The P Cygni absorption components of He I lambda 3889 and He I lambda 5876 display a similar global pattern of variability as was found for the simultaneously acquired UV profiles. The strengthening of the P Cygni absorption component of these transitions is associated with the maximum of the continuum flux. Conversely, the absorption trough of N V lambda 4604 gradually disappears as the star brightens. Although the emission parts of the lines are variable at different levels, they all show the same pattern of variability, which consists of phase-dependent shifts of extra emission components superposed on the profiles. A strong correlation is found between the continuum-light level and the equivalent width of most transitions. The line skewness and the full-width at half-maximum show a daily recurrence timescale, reflecting the light curve changes. We have addressed in a rigorous statistical way the significance of the variations by calculating the "temporal variance spectrum." For any given line, we found enhanced variability at some velocities, although the whole profile displays a statistically significant level of variability. Arguments against a compact companion as the cause of the observed periodic variability are presented. Instead, our observations strongly support the suggestion in the IUE Mega analysis that the atypical level of variability results from the rotation of a structured wind. We propose that the wind variability of EZ CMa is triggered by photospheric activity, or that the wind is controlled by a large-scale magnetic field.