Astronomy and astrophysics vol:310 issue:3 pages:861-871
We have searched for periodicity in the photometric and spectroscopic variations of the enigmatic star HD 101584 and found a long-term variability on a typical time scale of 1700 days (4.7 years) and a highly significant period of 218 +/- 0.7 day. This period is most prominently present in the photometric indices which are a measure for the Balmer jump (Geneva d and Stromgren c(1)(0)). The Doppler velocities of the high-excitation photospheric absorption lines (HeI and CII) seem to be variable with the photometric period. Our data favor the 218 day period for the Doppler velocities with a small probability that the true period is 436 days. We argue that HD 101584 is a close (highly) eccentric 218 day binary system with a low-mass unseen secondary. The photometric and Doppler variations are attributed to changes in the velocity law and mass-loss rate of the stellar wind which lead to asymmetric line profiles and a phase dependent Balmer discontinuity. Binary interaction is responsible for the changes in velocity law and mass-loss rate leading to the observed phenomena.