Measuring surface magnetic fields of red supergiant stars⋆
1 LUPM, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France
2 Université de Toulouse, UPS-OMP, Institut de recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, 31000 Toulouse, France
3 CNRS, UMR5277, Institut de recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, 14 avenue Édouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
Received: 20 January 2017
Accepted: 19 April 2017
Context. Red supergiant (RSG) stars are very massive cool evolved stars. Recently, a weak magnetic field was measured at the surface of α Ori and this is so far the only M-type supergiant for which a direct detection of a surface magnetic field has been reported.
Aims. By extending the search for surface magnetic field in a sample of late-type supergiants, we want to determine whether the surface magnetic field detected on α Ori is a common feature among the M-type supergiants.
Methods. With the spectropolarimeter Narval at Télescope Bernard-Lyot we undertook a search for surface magnetic fields in a sample of cool supergiant stars, and we analysed circular polarisation spectra using the least-squares deconvolution technique.
Results. We detect weak Zeeman signatures of stellar origin in the targets CE Tau, α1 Her and μ Cep. For the latter star, we also show that cross-talk from the strong linear polarisation signals detected on this star must be taken into account. For CE Tau and μ Cep, the longitudinal component of the detected surface fields is at the Gauss-level, such as in α Ori. We measured a longitudinal field almost an order of magnitude stronger for α1 Her. We also report variability of the longitudinal magnetic field of CE Tau and α1 Her, with changes in good agreement with the typical atmospheric dynamics time-scales. We also report a non-detection of magnetic field at the surface of the yellow supergiant star ρ Cas.
Conclusions. The two RSG stars of our sample, CE Tau and μ Cep, display magnetic fields very similar to that of α Ori. The non-detection of a magnetic field on the post-RSG star ρ Cas suggests that the magnetic field disappears, or at least becomes undetectable with present methods, at later evolutionary stages. Our analysis of α1 Her supports the proposed reclassification of the star as an M-type asymptotic giant branch star.
Key words: supergiants / stars: late-type / stars: magnetic field / techniques: polarimetric
© ESO, 2017