• binaries: general;
  • stars: early-type;
  • stars: general;
  • stars: individual: Iota Orionis

With the objective of investigating the wind–wind collision phenomenon and supporting contemporaneous X-ray observations, we have organized a large-scale, coordinated optical monitoring campaign of the massive, highly eccentric O9 III+B1 III binary Iota Orionis. Successfully separating the spectra of the components, we refine the orbital elements and confirm the rapid apsidal motion in the system. We also see strong interaction between the components during periastron passage and detect phase-locked variability in the spectrum of the secondary star. However, we find no unambiguous signs of the bow shock crashing on the surface of the secondary, despite the predictions of hydrodynamic simulations. Combining all available photometric data, we find rapid, phase-locked variations and model them numerically, thus restricting the orbital inclination to 50°≲i≲70°.