New circular spectropolarimetric observations of the B1 IIIe star β Cep (υsini = 25 km s−1) show a sinusoidally varying weak longitudinal magnetic field (~ 200 G peak-to-peak). The period corresponds to the 12 day period in the stellar wind variations observed in ultraviolet spectral lines. Maximum field occurs at maximum emission in the UV wind lines. This gives compelling evidence for a magnetic-rotator model for this star, with an unambiguous rotation period of 12 days.
The similarity between the Hα emission phases in β Cep and in Be stars suggests that the origin of the Be phenomenon does not have to be rapid rotation: we propose that in β Cep the velocity to bring material in (Keplerian) orbit is provided by the high corotation velocity at the Alfvén radius (~10 R*), whereas in Be stars this is done by the rapid rotation of the surface. In both cases the cause of the emission phases has still to be found. Weak temporary magnetic fields remain the strongest candidate.
A full paper, with results including additional measurements in June and July 1999, will appear in A & A.