Discovery Of A Wolf-Rayet Star Through Detection Of Its Photometric Variability
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We report the serendipitous discovery of a heavily reddened Wolf-Rayet star that we name WR 142b. While photometrically monitoring a cataclysmic variable, we detected weak variability in a nearby field star. Low-resolution spectroscopy revealed a strong emission line at 7100 angstrom, suggesting an unusual object and prompting further study. A spectrum taken with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope confirms strong He II emission and an N IV 7112 angstrom line consistent with a nitrogen-rich Wolf-Rayet star of spectral class WN6. Analysis of the He II line strengths reveals no detectable hydrogen in WR 142b. A blue-sensitive spectrum obtained with the Large Binocular Telescope shows no evidence for a hot companion star. The continuum shape and emission line ratios imply a reddening of E(B - V) = 2.2-2.6 mag. We estimate that the distance to WR 142b is 1.4 +/- 0.3 kpc.