Silicon monoxide masers and the magnetic field of R Cassiopeiae

  • Khudhair Abbas Assaf Al Muntafki

Student thesis: Phd


Silicon monoxide maser emission has been detected in many evolved stars in circumstellar envelopes in different vibrationally-excited rotational transitions. It is considered a good tracer to study the dynamics in a region close to the photosphere of the star. We present multi-epoch, total intensity, high-resolution images of 43 GHz, v=1, J=1-0 SiO maser emission toward the Mira variable R Cas. In total we have 23 epochs of data for R Cas at approximate monthly intervals over an optical pulsation phase range of φ = 0.158 to φ = 1.782. These maps show a ring-like distribution of the maser features in a shell, which is assumed to be centred on the star at average radius of 1.6 → 2.3 times the radius of star, R⋆. It is clear from these images that the maser emission is significantly extended around the star. At some epochs a faint outer arc can be seen at about 4 R⋆. The intensity of the emission waxes and wanes during the stellar phase. Some maser features are seen infalling as well as outflowing. We have made initial comparisons of our data with models by Gray et al. (2009). We have investigated the polarization morphology by mapping the linear and circular polarization of SiO masers in the v=1, J=1-0 transition. We found that some of the polarization vectors are either tangential or radial, which indicate a bimodal structure of the linear polarization morphology. Other angles can be seen as well. This is consistent with a radial, stellar-centred magnetic field in the SiO maser shell. We found in some isolated features the fractional linear polarization exceeds 100%. In other features, the polarization angle abruptly flips by 90◦. We found that our data are in the regime that the Zeeman splitting rate g is much greater than the stimulated emission rate R which in turn is greater than the decay rate , which indicates that the solution of Goldreich et al. (1973) can be applied.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Diamond (Supervisor)


  • AGB star, Late-type stars, star: individual: R Cas, Interfermetry, SiO Maser, Polarization, Magnetic field

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