Linear Polarization Light Curves of Oblique Magnetic Rotators

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


The quality and quantity of polarimetric data being collected for stellar sources creates new opportunities for studying stellar properties and evolution, and also leads to new challenges for modeling and interpreting such data. Inspired by fresh prospects for detecting the Hanle effect to study photospheric magnetic fields, we have focused attention on purely geometrical aspects for polarimetric variability in the example of oblique magnetic rotators. In the case of axisymmetric fields, we highlight two key facts: (a) polarimetric lightcurves necessarily exhibit a certain time symmetry with rotation phase, and (b) variations in the polarization position angle can be modeled based on geometrical projection effects, independent of the photospheric magnetic field. These conclusions also have general applicability, such as to Thomson scattering and the transverse Zeeman effect. The authors gratefully acknowledge that funding for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation, grant AST-0807664.

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