EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 423, Number 1, August III 2004
Page(s) 209 - 219
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040461


A&A 423, 209-219 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040461

Polarimetric observations of OH masers in proto-planetary nebulae

M. Szymczak1 and E. Gérard2

1  Torun Centre for Astronomy, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Gagarina 11, 87-100 Torun, Poland
    e-mail: msz@astro.uni.torun.pl
2  GEPI, UMR 8111, Observatoire de Paris, 5 place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France

(Received 17 March 2004 / Accepted 28 April 2004)

Abstract
The 1612 and 1667 MHz OH maser lines have been measured in all four Stokes parameters in 47 proto-planetary nebula (PPN) candidates. Out of 42 objects detected, 40 and 34 are 1612 and 1667 MHz emitters, respectively. The spectral extent of the 1667 MHz line overshoots that of the 1612 MHz line in about 80% of the targets. 52% and 26% of the 1612 and 1667 MHz sources, respectively, show linear polarization in at least some features. Circular polarization is more frequent, occurring in 78% and 32% of sources of the respective OH lines. The percentage polarization is usually small ( <15%) reaching up to 50-80% in a few sources. Features of linearly polarized emission are usually weak (0.5-4 Jy) and narrow (0.3-0.5 km s -1). The strength of the magnetic field inferred from likely Zeeman pairs in two sources of a few mG is consistent with values reported elsewhere for those classes of objects. An upper limit of the electron density in the envelope of OH17.7-2.0 derived from the difference in the position angle of polarization vectors for the two OH lines is about 1 cm -3. Distinct profiles of polarization position angle at 1612 and 1667 MHz are seen in about one third of the sources and strongly suggest that the envelopes are permeated by structured magnetic fields. The geometry of the magnetic field is implicated as an important cause of the depolarization found in some PPN candidates. For the subset of targets which show axisymmetric shells in the optical or radio images we found a dominance of magnetic field components which are orthogonal to the long axis of the nebulae. This finding supports the hypothesis that such bipolar lobes are shaped by the magnetic field.


Key words: polarization -- masers -- stars: AGB and post-AGB -- ISM: planetary nebulae: general -- stars: circumstellar matter

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