Context. Intermediate-mass, magnetic chemically peculiar (Ap) stars provide a unique opportunity to study the topology of stellar magnetic fields in detail and to investigate magnetically driven processes of spot formation.
Aims: Here we aim to derive the surface magnetic field geometry and chemical abundance distributions for the extraordinary Ap star HD 75049. This object hosts a surface field of åisebox-0.5ex~30 kG, one of the strongest known for any non-degenerate star.
Methods: We used time- series of high-resolution HARPS intensity and circular polarisation observations. These data were interpreted with the help of magnetic Doppler imaging and model atmospheres incorporating effects of a non-solar chemical composition and a strong magnetic field.
Results: Based on high-precision measurements of the mean magnetic field modulus, we refined the rotational period of HD 75049 to P$_rot$ = 4.048267 ensuremath± 0.000036 d. We also derived basic stellar parameters, T$_eff$ = 10 250 ensuremath± 250 K and log g = 4.3 ensuremath± 0.1. Magnetic Doppler imaging revealed that the field topology of HD 75049 is poloidal and dominated by a dipolar contribution with a peak surface field strength of 39 kG. At the same time, deviations from the classical axisymmetric oblique dipolar configuration are significant. Chemical surface maps of Si, Cr, Fe, and Nd show abundance contrasts of 0.5-1.4 dex, which is low compared with many other Ap stars. Of the chemical elements, Nd is found to be enhanced close to the magnetic pole, whereas Si and Cr are concentrated predominantly at the magnetic equator. The iron distribution shows low-contrast features both at the magnetic equator and the pole.
Conclusions: The morphology of the magnetic field and the properties of chemical spots in HD 75049 are qualitatively similar to those of Ap stars with weaker fields. Consequently, whatever mechanism forms and sustains global magnetic fields in intermediate-mass main-sequence stars, it operates in the same way over the entire observed range of magnetic field strengths.