Are magnetic fields shaping PNe?
This question is important because a large fraction of planetary nebulae (about 80%) are bipolar or elliptical rather than spherically symmetric. Modern theories invoke magnetic fields, among other causes, to explain the rich variety of aspherical components observed in PNe, as ejected matter is trapped along magnetic field lines. But, until recently, this idea was mostly a theoretical claim. Jordan et al. (2005) report the detection of kG magnetic fields in the central star of two non-spherical PNe, namely NGC1360 and LSS1362. We find that, contrary to that work, the magnetic field is null within errors for both stars. Then, a direct evidence of magnetic fields on the central stars of PNe is still missing — either the magnetic field is much weaker (< 600 G) than previously reported, or more complex (thus leading to cancellations), or both. The role of magnetic fields shaping PNe is still an open question.
About the talk
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain
See published paper for details.