Volume 514, May 2010
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||11 May 2010|
The Westerbork SINGS survey
III. Global magnetic field topology
CSIRO – Astronomy and Space Science, PO Box 76, Epping, NSW 1710, Australia e-mail: email@example.com
2 Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Accepted: 19 January 2010
A sample of large northern Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS) galaxies was observed with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) at 1300–1760 MHz. In Paper II of this series, we described sensitive observations of the linearly polarized radio continuum emission in this WSRT-SINGS galaxy sample. Large-scale magnetic field structures of two basic types are found: (a) disk fields with a spiral topology in all detected targets; and (b) circumnuclear, bipolar outflow fields in a subset. Here we explore the systematic patterns of azimuthal modulation of both the Faraday depth and the polarized intensity and their variation with galaxy inclination. A self-consistent and fully general model for both the locations of net polarized emissivity at 1–2 GHz frequencies and the global magnetic field topology of nearby galaxies emerges. Net polarized emissivity is concentrated into two zones located above and below the galaxy mid-plane, with the back-side zone suffering substantial depolarization (by a factor of 4–5) relative to the front-side zone in its propagation through the turbulent mid-plane. The field topology which characterizes the thick-disk emission zone, is in all cases an axisymmetric spiral with a quadrupole dependence on height above the mid-plane. The front-side emission is affected by only mild dispersion (10's of rad m-2) from the thermal plasma in the galaxy halo, while the back-side emission is affected by additional strong dispersion (100's of rad m-2) from an axi-symmetric spiral field in the galaxy mid-plane. The field topology in the upper halo of galaxies is a mixture of two distinct types: a simple extension of the axisymmetric spiral quadrupole field of the thick disk and a radially directed dipole field. The dipole component might be a manifestation of (1) a circumnuclear, bipolar outflow; (2) an in situ generated dipole field; or (3) evidence of a non-stationary global halo.
Key words: ISM: magnetic fields / galaxies: magnetic fields / radio continuum: galaxies
© ESO, 2010
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