Volume 528, April 2011
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||18 March 2011|
Exploring the origin of magnetic fields in massive stars: a survey of O-type stars in clusters and in the field⋆
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 Main Astronomical Observatory, 27 Academica Zabolotnogo Str., 03680 Kiev, Ukraine
4 Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
5 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Santiago, Chile
6 Astronomical Institute, Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
7 Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Acad. Sci., 48 Pyatnitskaya Str., 109017 Moscow, Russia
8 Dr.-Karl-Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg & ECAP, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sternwartstr. 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
Received: 17 December 2010
Accepted: 7 February 2011
Context. Although the effects of magnetic fields in massive stars have been found to be substantial by recent models and observations, the magnetic fields of only a small number of massive O-type stars have so far been investigated. Additional observations are of the utmost importance to constraining the conditions that are conducive to magnetic fields and to determine the first trends about their occurrence rate and field strength distribution.
Aims. To investigate statistically whether magnetic fields in massive stars are ubiquitous or appear only in stars with a specific spectral classification, certain ages, or in a special environment, we acquired 41 new spectropolarimetric observations for 36 stars. Among the observed sample, roughly half of the stars are probable members of clusters at different ages, whereas the remaining stars are field stars not known to belong to any cluster or association.
Methods. Spectropolarimetric observations were obtained during three different nights using the low-resolution spectropolarimetric mode of FORS 2 (FOcal Reducer low dispersion Spectrograph) mounted on the 8-m Antu telescope of the VLT. To assess the membership in open clusters and associations, we used astrometric catalogues with the highest quality kinematic and photometric data currently available.
Results. A field at a significance level of 3σ was detected in ten O-type stars. The strongest longitudinal magnetic fields were measured in two Of?p stars: ⟨ Bz ⟩ = −381 ± 122 G for CPD−28 2561 and ⟨ Bz ⟩ = −297 ± 62 G for HD 148937, the latter of which had previously been detected by ourselves as magnetic. The observations of HD 148937 obtained on three different nights indicate that the magnetic field is slightly variable. Our new measurements support our previous conclusion that large-scale organized magnetic fields with polar field strengths in excess of 1 kG are not widespread among O-type stars. Among the stars with a detected magnetic field, only one star, HD 156154, belongs to an open cluster at high membership probability. According to previous kinematic studies, four magnetic O-type stars in the sample are well-known candidate runaway stars.
Key words: polarization / stars: magnetic field / stars: kinematics and dynamics / open clusters and associations: general / stars: early-type
© ESO, 2011
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