EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 420, Number 3, June IV 2004
Page(s) 993 - 1007
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20034345

A&A 420, 993-1007 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034345

The influence of magnetic fields on the hydrostatic structure of the atmospheres of chemically peculiar stars

G. Valyavin1, 2, O. Kochukhov3 and N. Piskunov4

1  Special Astrophysical Observatory, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhnii Arkhyz, Karachai Cherkess Republic 369167, Russia
2  Isaac Newton Institute of Chile, SAO Branch, Russia
3  Institute for Astronomy, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
    e-mail: kochukhov@astro.univie.ac.at
4  Uppsala Astronomical Observatory, Box 515, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
    e-mail: piskunov@astro.uu.se

(Received 18 September 2003 / Accepted 4 March 2004)

We discuss the properties of atmospheres of chemically peculiar magnetic stars. The slow evolution of global magnetic fields leads to the development of an induced electric current in all conductive atmospheric layers. The Lorentz force, which results from the interaction between a magnetic field and the induced current, may change the atmospheric structure and provide insight into the formation and evolution of stellar magnetic fields. We developed a model atmosphere code that takes into account the Lorentz force in the equation of hydrostatic equilibrium, and computed a number of model atmospheres for magnetic A and B stars. The surface distribution of a magnetic field was assumed to be a dipole, slightly distorted by the induced atmospheric electric current. The interaction between the magnetic field and electric current is modelled in detail, taking into account microscopic properties of the stellar plasma. The presence of a significant Lorentz force leads to substantial modification of the atmospheric structure and in particular the pressure stratification, which in turn influences the formation of absorption spectral features, especially hydrogen Balmer lines. Furthermore, we find that rotational modulation of the disk-average parameters of a global stellar magnetic field causes characteristic rotational variability of hydrogen lines. With our model, observable effects correspond to induced electric currents of the order of 10 -11 cgs, which requires characteristic field evolution times 2-3 orders of magnitude shorter than the field decay time estimated for magnetic A and B stars assuming fossil dipolar field topology in the stellar interior. Using the computations of our model atmospheres we consider an observational aspect of the problem and attempt to interpret photometric data on the variability of hydrogen lines within the framework of simplest model of the evolution of global magnetic fields. With the hydrogen line data we find tentative support for the presence of a non-negligible Lorentz force in the atmospheres of some magnetic chemically peculiar stars.

Key words: stars: chemically peculiar -- stars: magnetic fields -- stars: atmospheres

Offprint request: G. Valyavin, gendoz@sao.ru

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