The magnetic fields of young stars
Johns-Krull, Christopher M.
Doctor of Philosophy
The T Tauri stars (TTSs) are young, solar-type stars which display many spectral pecularities. Understanding the magnetic properties of TTSs is a key to make sense of their curious behaviors. First, high resolution optical and infrared (IR) echelle spectra are analyzed to measure the surface magnetic field of the classical T Tauri star (CTTS) TW Hydrae. Key stellar parameters are determined from detailed spectrum synthesis of atomic and molecular absorption features in the optical, and then modeling the line profiles of the four magnetically sensitive Ti I lires in the K band yields the average magnetic field on TW Hydrae. Extensive Monte Carlo tests are performed to quantify systematic errors in the analysis technique, finding that reasonable errors in the effective temperature or surface gravity produce around 10% uncertainty in the magnetic field measurements. Then a similar analysis technique is applied to detect strong magnetic fields on 5 additional stars in the TW Hydrae Association (TWA) as well as 14 TTSs in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC). We combine these measurements with previous measurements of 14 stars in Taurus to study the potential evolution of magnetic field properties during the first 10 million years of stellar evolution. In addition, to probe the magnetic geometry on the surface of TW Hydrae, high resolution circular spectropolarimetry of this star is analyzed to measure the net longitudinal magnetic field. Significant polarization is detected on the final night of six consecutive nights of observing, but no net polarization is seen on other nights. This longitudinal field detection is still much lower than that which would be consistent with a dipole geometry on the stellar suface. On the other hand, strong circular polarization is detected in the He I lambda5876 and Ca II lambda8498 emission lines, indicating a strong field in the line forming regions of these features. Overall, strong magnetic fields of kG level are commonly found among TTSs and the magnetic configuration is probably not a simple dipole as current magnetospheric accretion theories assume. With magnetic pressure likely dominating over gas pressure in the stellar photospheres, the entire stellar surfaces could be covered with magnetic fields, and this might be responsible for the underproduction of the X-ray emission of TTSs. It is also suggested that these large-scale magnetic fields could be of a primordial origin.