ALMA reveals the coherence of the magnetic field geometry in OH 231.8+4.2

L. Sabin, R. Sahai, W. H. T. Vlemmings, Q. Zhang, A. A. Zijlstra, T. Gledhill, M. Huarte-Espinosa, A. F. Pérez Sánchez, E. Lagadec, S. G. Navarro

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In a continuing effort to investigate the role of magnetic fields in evolved low and intermediate mass stars (principally regarding the shaping of their envelopes), we present new ALMA high resolution polarization data obtained for the nebula OH 231.8+4.2. We found that the polarized emission likely arises from aligned grains in the presence of magnetic fields rather than radiative alignment and self scattering. The ALMA data show well organized electric field orientations in most of the nebula and the inferred magnetic field vectors (rotated by 90 degrees) trace an hourglass morphology centred on the central system of the nebula. One region in the southern part of OH 231.8+4.2 shows a less organized distribution probably due to the shocked environment. These findings, in conjunction with earlier investigations (maser studies and dust emission analysis at other scales and wavelengths) suggest an overall magnetic hourglass located inside a toroidal field. We propose the idea that the magnetic field structure is closely related to the architecture of a magnetic tower and that the outflows were therefore magnetically launched. While the current dynamical effect of the fields might be weak in the equatorial plane principally due to the evolution of the envelope, it would still be affecting the outflows. In that regard, the measurement of the magnetic field at the stellar surface, which is still missing, combined with a full MHD treatment are required to better understand and constrain the events occurring in OH 231.8+4.2.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstaa1449
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date23 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2020


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.GA


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