EDP Sciences
Press Release
Free access
Volume 500, Number 3, June IV 2009
Page(s) L41 - L44
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200911996
Published online 13 May 2009
A&A 500, L41-L44 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200911996


First evidence of a magnetic field on Vega

Towards a new class of magnetic A-type stars
F. Lignières1, 2, P. Petit1, 2, T. Böhm1, 2, and M. Aurière1, 2

1  Université de Toulouse, UPS, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Toulouse-Tarbes (LATT), 31400 Toulouse, France
    e-mail: ligniere@ast.obs-mip.fr
2  CNRS, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Toulouse-Tarbes (LATT), 31400 Toulouse, France

Received 6 March 2009 / Accepted 27 April 2009

We report the detection of a magnetic field on Vega through spectropolarimetric observations. We acquired 257 Stokes V, high signal-to-noise and high-resolution echelle spectra during four consecutive nights with the NARVAL spectropolarimeter at the 2-m Telescope Bernard Lyot of Observatoire du Pic du Midi (France). A circularly polarized signal in line profiles is unambiguously detected after combining the contribution of about 1200 spectral lines for each spectrum and summing the signal over the 257 spectra. Due to the low amplitude of the polarized signal, various tests have been performed to discard the possibility of a spurious polarized signal. They all point towards a stellar origin of the polarized signal. Interpreting this polarization as a Zeeman signature leads to a value of -0.6 $\pm$ 0.3 G for the disk-averaged line-of-sight component of the surface magnetic field. This is the first strong evidence of a magnetic field in an A-type star which is not an Ap chemically peculiar star. Moreover, this longitudinal magnetic field is smaller by about two orders of magnitude than the longitudinal magnetic field (taken at its maximum phase) of the most weakly magnetic Ap stars. Magnetic fields similar to the Vega magnetic field could be present but still undetected in many other A-type stars.

Key words: stars: magnetic fields -- stars: early-type -- stars: individual: Vega

© ESO 2009