DOI: 10.1126/science.ade3293 ISSN:

A massive helium star with a sufficiently strong magnetic field to form a magnetar

Tomer Shenar, Gregg A. Wade, Pablo Marchant, Stefano Bagnulo, Julia Bodensteiner, Dominic M. Bowman, Avishai Gilkis, Norbert Langer, André Nicolas-Chené, Lidia Oskinova, Timothy Van Reeth, Hugues Sana, Nicole St-Louis, Alexandre Soares de Oliveira, Helge Todt, Silvia Toonen
  • Multidisciplinary

Magnetars are highly magnetized neutron stars, the formation mechanism of which is unknown. Hot helium-rich stars with spectra dominated by emission lines are known as Wolf-Rayet stars. We observed the binary system HD 45166 using spectropolarimetry and reanalyzed its orbit using archival data. We found that the system contains a Wolf-Rayet star with a mass of 2 solar masses and a magnetic field of 43 kilogauss. Stellar evolution calculations indicate that this component will explode as a supernova, and that its magnetic field is strong enough for the supernova to leave a magnetar remnant. We propose that the magnetized Wolf-Rayet star formed by the merger of two lower-mass helium stars.

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