Wind channeling, magnetospheres, and spindown of magnetic massive stars

S. P. Owocki, A. Ud-Doula, R. H.D. Townsend, V. Petit, J. O. Sundqvist, D. H. Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


A subpopulation (∼10%) of hot, luminous, massive stars have been revealed through spectropolarimetry to harbor strong (hundreds to tens of thousand Gauss), steady, large-scale (often significantly dipolar) magnetic fields. This review focuses on the role of such fields in channeling and trapping the radiatively driven wind of massive stars, including both in the strongly perturbed outflow from open field regions, and the wind-fed magnetospheres that develop from closed magnetic loops. For B-type stars with weak winds and moderately fast rotation, one finds centrifugal magnetospheres, in which rotational support allows magnetically trapped wind to accumulate to a large density, with quite distinctive observational signatures, e.g. in Balmer line emission. In contrast, more luminous O-type stars have generally been spun down by magnetic braking from angular momentum loss in their much stronger winds. The lack of centrifugal support means their closed loops form a dynamical magnetosphere, with trapped material falling back to the star on a dynamical timescale; nonetheless, the much stronger wind feeding leads to a circumstellar density that is still high enough to give substantial Balmer emission. Overall, this review describes MHD simulations and semi-analytic dynamical methods for modeling the magnetospheres, the magnetically channeled wind outflows, and the associated spin-down of these magnetic massive stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMagnetic Fields throughout Stellar Evolution
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781107044982
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
ISSN (Print)1743-9213
ISSN (Electronic)1743-9221

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Space and Planetary Science


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