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Rotation and magnetism in massive stars

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Potter, Adrian Thomas 


Rotation has a number of important effects on the evolution of stars. Apart from structural changes because of the centrifugal force, turbulent mixing and meridional circulation can dramatically affect a star's chemical evolution. This leads to changes in the surface temperature and luminosity as well as modifying its lifetime. Rotation decreases the surface gravity, causes enhanced mass loss and leads to surface abundance anomalies of various chemical isotopes all of which have been observed. The replication of these physical effects with simple stellar evolution models is very difficult and has resulted in the use of numerous different formulations to describe the physics. We have adapted the Cambridge stellar evolution code to incorporate a number of different physical models for rotation, including several treatments of angular momentum transport in convection zones. We compare detailed grids of stellar evolution models along with simulated stellar populations to identify the key differences between them. We then consider how these models relate to observed data.

Models of rotationally-driven dynamos in stellar radiative zones have suggested that magnetohydrodynamic transport of angular momentum and chemical composition can dominate over the otherwise purely hydrodynamic processes. If this is the case then a proper consideration of the interaction between rotation and magnetic fields is essential. We have adapted our purely hydrodynamic model to include the evolution of the magnetic field with a pair of time-dependent advection--diffusion equations coupled with the equations for the evolution of the angular momentum distribution and stellar structure. This produces a much more complete, though still reasonably simple, model for the magnetic field evolution. We consider how the surface field strength varies during the main-sequence evolution and compare the surface enrichment of nitrogen for a simulated stellar population with observations.

Strong magnetic fields are also observed at the end of the stellar lifetime. The surface magnetic field strength of white dwarfs is observed to vary from very little up to 10^9G. As well as considering the main-sequence evolution of magnetic fields we also look at how the strongest magnetic fields in white dwarfs may be generated by dynamo action during the common envelope phase of strongly interacting binary stars. The resulting magnetic field depends strongly on the electrical conductivity of the white dwarf, the lifetime of the convective envelope and the variability of the magnetic dynamo. We assess the various energy sources available and estimate necessary lifetimes of the common envelope.





Stars, Astronomy, Rotation, Magnetic, Chemically peculiar, Evolution, Stellar


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
This work was supported by the Science and Technologies Facilities Council.