Modeling the magnetospheres of luminous stars: Interactions between supersonic radiation-driven winds and stellar magnetic fields

Stan Owocki, Rich Townsend, Asif Ud-Doula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hot, luminous stars (spectral types O and B) lack the hydrogen recombination convection zones that drive magnetic dynamo generation in the sun and other cool stars. Nonetheless, observed rotational modulation of spectral lines formed in the strong, radiatively driven winds of hot stars suggests magnetic perturbations analogous to those that induce "co-rotating interaction regions" in the solar wind. Indeed, recent advances in spectropolarimetric techniques have now led to direct detection of moderate to strong (100-10 000 G), tilted dipole magnetic fields in several hot stars. Using a combination of analytic and numerical magnetohydrodynamic models, this paper focuses on the role of such magnetic fields in channeling, and sometimes confining, the radiatively driven mass outflows from such stars. The results show how "magnetically confined wind shocks" can explain the moderately hard x-ray emission seen from the O7V star Theta-1 Ori C, and how the trapping of material in a "rigidly rotating magnetosphere" can explain the periodically modulated Balmer line emission seen from the magnetic B2pV star Sigma Ori E. In addition, magnetic reconnection heating from episodic centrifugal breakout events might explain the occasional very hard x-ray flares seen from the latter star. The paper concludes with a brief discussion on the generation of hot-star fields and the broader relationship to other types of magnetospheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number056502
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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