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Astron. Astrophys. 362, 281-288 (2000)

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Coherent radio emission from the magnetic chemically peculiar star CU Virginis

C. Trigilio 1,2, P. Leto 1, F. Leone 2, G. Umana 1,2 and C. Buemi 1

1 Istituto di Radioastronomia del C.N.R., P.O. Box 141, 96017 Noto (SR), Italy
2 Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Città Universitaria, 95125 Catania, Italy

Received 28 October 1999 / Accepted 19 May 2000


Radio observations of the magnetic chemically peculiar star CU Vir, carried out with the VLA in three different days, show that the radio emission at 20 cm is characterized by a strong enhancement at particular rotational phases. This radio emission is found to be right hand polarized with a degree of polarization close to 100%. As common for this class of stars, the magnetic axis of CU Vir is oblique with respect to the rotational axis. By comparing the 20 cm radio light curve with the effective magnetic field available from the literature, a coincidence of the main peaks of the radio emission with the magnetic nulls has been found. This happens when the magnetic axis lies in the plane of the sky.

We suggest that the high degree of polarization, together with the high directivity of the radiation, can be explained in terms of coherent radio emission. The data have been interpreted on the basis of the Electron Cyclotron Maser Emission from electrons accelerated in current sheets out of the Alfvén radius toward the stellar surface and eventually reflected outward by magnetic mirroring.

Key words: polarization – masers – stars: chemically peculiar – stars: individual: CU Vir – stars: magnetic fields – radio continuum: stars

Send offprint requests to: C. Trigilio (trigilio@ira.noto.cnr.it)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: October 30, 19100