Letter to the Editor
The magnetic field of Betelgeuse: a local dynamo from giant convection cells?*
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Toulouse- Tarbes, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, 57 avenue d'Azereix, 65000 Tarbes, France e-mail: [michel.auriere;donati;petit;thierry.roudier]@ast.obs-mip.fr
2 Institute of Astronomy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 72 Tsarigradsko shose, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, UMR8109, 92190 Meudon, France e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 17 May 2010
Context. Betelgeuse is an M supergiant with a complex and extended atmosphere, which also harbors spots and giant granules at its surface. A possible magnetic field could contribute to the mass loss and to the heating of the outer atmosphere.
Aims. We observed Betelgeuse, to directly study and infer the nature of its magnetic field.
Methods. We used the new-generation spectropolarimeter NARVAL and the least square deconvolution (LSD) method to detect circular polarization within the photospheric absorption lines of Betelgeuse.
Results. We have unambiguously detected a weak Stokes V signal in the spectral lines of Betelgeuse, and measured the related surface-averaged longitudinal magnetic field at 6 different epochs over one month. The detected longitudinal field is about one Gauss and is apparently increasing on the time scale of our observations.
Conclusions. This work presents the first direct detection of the magnetic field of Betelgeuse. This magnetic field may be associated to the giant convection cells that could enable a “local dynamo”.
Key words: stars: individual: Betelgeuse / stars: magnetic field / stars: late-type / supergiants
© ESO, 2010