Direct detection of a magnetic field in the photosphere of the single M giant EK Bootis⋆
How common is magnetic activity among M giants?
Institute of Astronomy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,
72 Tsarigradsko shose,
2 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Toulouse-Tarbes, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, Observatoire Midi Pyrénés, 57 Avenue d’Azereix, 65008 Tarbes, France
3 Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève, 51 Chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
4 Sobolev Astronomical Institute, St. Petersburg State University, Universitetski pr. 28, St. Petersburg 198504, Russia
5 Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Guanajuato, A.P. 144, C.P. 36000, GTO, Mexico
6 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, Université Joseph Fourier-CNRS, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
Received: 25 March 2010
Accepted: 1 September 2010
Aims. We study the fast rotating M 5 giant EK Boo by means of spectropolarimetry to obtain direct and simultaneous measurements of both the magnetic field and activity indicators, in order to infer the origin of the activity in this fairly evolved giant.
Methods. We used the new spectropolarimeter NARVAL at the Bernard Lyot Telescope (Observatoire du Pic du Midi, France) to obtain a series of Stokes I and Stokes V profiles for EK Boo. Using the least square deconvolution (LSD) technique we were able to detect the Zeeman signature of the magnetic field. We measured its longitudinal component by means of the averaged Stokes V and Stokes I profiles. The spectra also permitted us to monitor the Ca ii K&H chromospheric emission lines, which are well known as indicators of stellar magnetic activity.
Results. From ten observations obtained between April 2008 and March 2009, we deduce that EK Boo has a magnetic field, which varied in the range of − 0.1 to − 8 G. On March 13, 2009, a complex structure of Stokes V was observed, which might indicate a dynamo. We also determined the initial mass and evolutionary stage of EK Boo, based on up-to-date stellar evolution tracks. The initial mass is in the range of 2.0 − 3.6 M⊙, and EK Boo is either on the asymptotic giant branch (AGB), at the onset of the thermal pulse phase, or at the tip of the first (or red) giant branch (RGB). The fast rotation and activity of EK Boo might be explained by angular momentum dredge-up from the interior, or by the merging of a binary.
In addition, we observed eight other M giants, which are known as X-ray emitters, or to be rotating fast for their class. For one of these, β And, presumably also an AGB star, we have a marginal detection of magnetic field, and a longitudinal component Bl of about 1 G was measured. More observations like this will answer the question whether EK Boo is a special case, or whether magnetic activity is, rather, more common among M giants than expected.
Key words: dynamo / magnetic fields / instrumentation: polarimeters / techniques: polarimetric / starts: activity / stars: evolution
© ESO, 2010