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Preprint B/12

Magnetic fields in central stars of planetary nebulae?

S. Jordan (1), S. Bagnulo (2), K. Werner (3) and S. J. O’Toole (4)

(1) Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Germany
(2) Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, Northern Ireland, UK
(3) Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany
(4) Australian Astronomical Observatory

A&A 542 (2012), A64

Abstract. Context. Most planetary nebulae have bipolar or other non-spherically symmetric shapes. Magnetic fields in the central star may be responsible for this lack of symmetry, but observational studies published to date have reported contradictory results.
Aims. We search for correlations between a magnetic field and departures from the spherical geometry of the envelopes of planetary nebulae.
Methods. We determine the magnetic fields from spectropolarimetric observations of ten central stars of planetary nebulae. The results of the analysis of the observations of four stars were previously presented and discussed in the literature, while the observations of six stars, plus additional measurements of a star previously observed, are presented here for the first time.
Results. All our determinations of magnetic field in the central planetary nebulae are consistent with null results. Our field measurements have a typical error bar of 150–300 G. Previous spurious field detections using data acquired with FORS1 (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph) of the Unit Telescope 1 (UT1) of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) were probably due to the use of different wavelength calibration solutions for frames obtained at different position angles of the retarder waveplate.
Conclusions. There is currently no observational evidence of magnetic fields with a strength of the order of hundreds Gauss or higher in the central stars of planetary nebulae.

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