Illuminating the role of magnetic fields around dying stars (MAGNETIC AGB)

The study of the processes governing the end of the life of stars such as our Sun is of fundamental importance. During the final stages of their lives, stars undergo extreme mass-loss in which they expel large amounts of dust, atoms and molecules into the interstellar environment. This material is one of the main sources of the heavy elements essential for further formation of stars, planets and even life. As the expelled dust is responsible for much of the emission seen from young galaxies at cosmological distances, a proper understanding of the processes involved in the stellar mass-loss is also needed in order to reconcile cosmological galaxy evolution scenarios with the observations. Although significant advances have been made in recent years, our current understanding of the mass-loss process is however still very incomplete. There are indications of a missing component necessary to drive and shape mass-loss, and magnetism is a possible candidate. However, magnetic fields are one of the least studied of the potential mechanisms involved in mass-loss, and, despite being ubiquitous, are often ignored. This will change with the advent of several new and improved instruments, such as the Atacama Large (sub-)Millimeter Array (ALMA), as the observations of magnetic fields will enter a new era.Additionally, theoretical work will experience a similar advance. In this research project, observations and theory will be united to study the effects of magnetic fields on the stellar mass-loss. Models will be constrained by our unique recent and upcoming observations, and will thus drive the developments in this research field. The research project will provide the definitive answer on the role of magnetic fields in the mass-loss process of evolved Sun-like stars.


Wouter Vlemmings (contact)

Professor vid Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics


European Commission (FP7)

Funding years 2012–2016

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