Magnetic fields and chemical maps of Ap stars from four Stokes parameter observations

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Our knowledge of stellar magnetic fields relies almost entirely on circular polarization observations, which has historically limited our understanding of the stellar magnetic field topologies. Recently, it has become possible to obtain phase-resolved high-resolution spectropolarimetric observations in all four Stokes parameters for early-type magnetic stars. Interpretation of such observations with the Magnetic Doppler imaging technique has uncovered a new, previously unknown, level of complexity of surface stellar magnetic fields. This new insight is critical for understanding the origin, evolution and structure of magnetic fields in early-type stars.In this study we observed the magnetic, chemically peculiar Ap stars HD 24712 (DO Eri, HR 1217) and HD 125248 (CS Vir, HR 5355) in all four Stokes parameters with the HARPSpol spectropolarimeter at the ESO 3.6-m telescope. The resulting spectra have high signal-to-noise ratio and superb resolving power, by far surpassing the quality of any existing stellar Stokes parameter observations.We studied variation of the spectrum and magnetic observables of HD 24712 as a function of rotational phase (paper I). In the subsequent magnetic Doppler imaging investigation of this star, we interpreted the phase-resolved Stokes line profile observations (paper II). This analysis showed that HD 24712, unlike more massive Ap stars studied in all four Stokes parameters, has a dominant dipolar field component with a negligible contribution of small-scale magnetic structures. Simultaneously with magnetic mapping we derived surface abundance distributions of Fe, Nd, Na, and Ca.Building upon the technique of Magnetic Doppler imaging, we developed the first three-dimensional abundance inversion code and applied it to reconstruct the abundance distributions of Fe and Ca in three dimensions in the atmosphere of HD 24712 (paper III).We also performed Magnetic Doppler imaging analysis of the spectropolarimetric observations of HD 125248 (paper IV). The reconstructed detailed maps of the surface abundance distribution and magnetic field topology of HD 125248 revealed a magnetic field with significant deviations from the canonical dipolar field geometry, and strong surface abundance inhomogeneities for Cr and several rare earth elements.We assessed our inversion results in the context of magnetic Doppler imaging studies of other magnetic, chemically peculiar Ap stars and latest theoretical research on the evolution and stability of magnetic fields in radiative stellar interiors. Our analysis suggests that old or less massive Ap stars have predominantly dipolar magnetic fields while more massive or younger stars exhibit more complicated field topologies. We also compared our three-dimensional chemical abundance maps of HD 24712 to the predictions of theoretical atomic diffusion calculations in magnetized stellar atmospheres, generally finding a lack of agreement between theory and observations.