Volume 434, Number 3, May II 2005
|1029 - 1038
|Interstellar and circumstellar matter
|18 April 2005
The magnetic field around late-type stars revealed by the circumstellar H2O masers
Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA e-mail: email@example.com
2 Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe, Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
3 Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DL, UK
Accepted: 20 January 2005
Through polarization observations, circumstellar masers are excellent probes of the magnetic field in the envelopes of late-type stars. Whereas observations of the polarization of the SiO masers close to the star and on the OH masers much further out were fairly commonplace, observations of the magnetic field strength in the intermediate density and temperature region where the 22 GHz H2O masers occur have only recently become possible. Here we present the analysis of the circular polarization, due to Zeeman splitting, of the H2O masers around the Mira variable stars U Her and U Ori and the supergiant VX Sgr. We present an upper limit of the field around U Her that is lower but consistent with previous measurements, reflecting possible changes in the circumstellar envelope. The field strengths around U Ori and VX Sgr are shown to be of the order of several Gauss. Moreover, we show for the first time that large scale magnetic fields permeate the circumstellar envelopes of an evolved star; the polarization of the H2O masers around VX Sgr reveals a dipole field structure. We discuss the coupling of the magnetic field with the stellar outflow, as such fields could possibly be the cause of distinctly aspherical mass-loss.
Key words: masers / polarization / stars: circumstellar matter / stars: magnetic fields / stars: AGB and post-AGB
© ESO, 2005
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