13th Annual International Astrophysics Conference location:Myrtle Beach (USA) date:10-14 March 2014
Many massive stars travel through the interstellar medium at supersonic speeds.
As a result they form bow shocks at the interface between the stellar wind.
We use numerical hydrodynamics to reproduce such bow shocks numerically, creating models that
can be compared to observations.
In this paper we discuss the influence of two physical phenomena, interstellar magnetic fields
and the presence of interstellar dust grains on the observable shape of the bow shocks of massive stars.
We find that the interstellar magnetic field, though too weak to restrict the general shape of the bow shock,
reduces the size of the instabilities that would otherwise be observed in the bow shock of a red supergiant.
The interstellar dust grains, due to their inertia can penetrate deep into the bow shock structure of a main sequence O-supergiant,
crossing over from the ISM into the stellar wind.
Therefore, the dust distribution may not always reflect the morphology of the gas.
This is an important consideration for infrared observations, which are dominated by dust emission.
Our models clearly show, that the bow shocks of massive stars are useful diagnostic tools that can used
to investigate the properties of both the stellar wind as well as the interstellar medium.