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Aspects of magnetic fields in the late stages of stellar evolution

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Title: Aspects of magnetic fields in the late stages of stellar evolution
Author: Thirumalai, Anand
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Physics
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-10-03
Abstract: We investigate the implications of a magnetic field in the late stages of stellar evolution, in relation to the process of mass-loss via a stellar wind. We develop the very first hybrid magnetohydrodynamic-dust-driven wind model for intermediate-mass Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars. This model consists of incorporating a canonical Weber-Davis magneto-centrifugal scenario with the effects of radiation pressure on dust grains in the envelope of an AGB star. This results in a dual-fluid description, the solution of which is seen to possess traits of both types of winds. In this context, we additionally investigate the implications of spots on the photosphere that alter the location of dust formation and hence the wind solutions. This model is adapted to tackle the case of the red supergiant Betelgeuse. The underlying motivation is to delineate a new mechanism for solving the problem of transport of stellar material from the photosphere out to the dust formation radius, many stellar radii away. Various dust formation scenarios are investigated and it is concluded that the simplest of such scenarios, with silicate dust forming at a large distance, is the most viable one as well. This theory is also applied to the low-mass end of AGB stars; the star Mira. By applying a modified wind model we solve for a hybrid MHD-dust-driven wind solution and find that the magnetic field required to model the observed wind is about 4 G, well within the range of current estimates for AGB stars. We also formulate a hot-spot model to rationalise dust shells at a distance of several stellar radii. Finally, we study the effects of a strong magnetic field in post-AGB compact objects; magnetised white dwarfs and neutron stars. We develop a fast and efficient solution for Hartree-Fock atoms in strong magnetic fields using pseudospectral methods. The atomic structure package developed for this purpose is seen to be many orders of magnitude faster than finite-element based methods. We also obtain for the first time, estimates for the binding energies of certain low-lying states of the lithium atom, that have not been reported thus far in the literature.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43341
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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