Disruption of circumstellar discs by large-scale stellar magnetic fields

Asif ud-Doula, Stanley P. Owocki, Nathaniel Dylan Kee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Spectropolarimetric surveys reveal that 8-10 per cent ofOBAstars harbor large-scalemagnetic fields, but thus far no such fields have been detected in any classical Be stars. Motivated by this, we present here magnetohydrodynamical simulations for how a pre-existing Keplerian disc - like that inferred to form from decretion of material from rapidly rotating Be stars - can be disrupted by a rotation-aligned stellar dipole field. For characteristic stellar and disc parameters of a near critically rotating B2e star, we find that a polar surface field strength of just 10 G can significantly disrupt the disc, while a field of 100 G, near the observational upper limit inferred for most Be stars, completely destroys the disc over just a few days. Our parameter study shows that the efficacy of this magnetic disruption of a disc scales with the characteristic plasma beta (defined as the ratio between thermal and magnetic pressure) in the disc, but is surprisingly insensitive to other variations, e.g. in stellar rotation speed, or the mass-loss rate of the star's radiatively driven wind. The disc disruption seen here for even a modest field strength suggests that the presumed formation of such Be discs by decretion of material from the star would likely be strongly inhibited by such fields; this provides an attractive explanation for why no large-scale fields are detected from such Be stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3049-3055
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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