On the consistency of magnetic field measurements of Ap stars: lessons learned from the FORS1 archive
1 Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, UK
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
2 Physics & Astronomy Department, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7
3 Argelander Institut für Astronomie, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Received: 4 August 2014
Accepted: 14 October 2014
Context. The ESO archive of FORS1 spectropolarimetric observations may be used to create a homogeneous database of magnetic field measurements. However, no systematic comparison of FORS field measurements to those obtained with other instruments has been undertaken so far.
Aims. We exploit the FORS archive of circular spectropolarimetric data to examine in a general way how reliable and accurate field detections obtained with FORS are.
Methods. We examine the observations of Ap and Bp stars, on the grounds that almost all of the unambiguous detections of magnetic fields in the FORS1 archive are in these kinds of stars. We assess the overall quality of the FORS1 magnetic data by examining the consistency of field detections with what is known from previous measurements obtained with other instruments, and we look at patterns of internal consistency.
Results. FORS1 magnetic measurements are fully consistent with those made with other instruments, and the internal consistency of the data is excellent. However, it is important to recognise that each choice of grism and wavelength window constitutes a distinct instrumental measuring system, and that simultaneous field measurements in different instrumental systems may produce field strength values that differ up to 20%, or more. Furthermore, we found that field measurements using hydrogen lines only yield results that meaningfully reflect the field strength as sampled specifically by lines of hydrogen for stars with effective temperatures above about 9000 K.
Conclusions. In general the magnetic field measurements of Ap and Bp stars obtained with FORS1 are of excellent quality, accuracy and precision, and FORS1 provides an extremely useful example that offers valuable lessons for field measurements with other low-resolution Cassegrain spectropolarimeters.
Key words: catalogs / stars: magnetic field / polarization / techniques: polarimetric
© ESO, 2014