Seeking large-scale magnetic fields in a pure-disk dwarf galaxy NGC 2976
Obserwatorium Astronomiczne Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, ul. Orla
2 ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
3 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
4 Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
5 Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5534 Sterling, 475 North Charter St., Madison WI 53706, USA
Received: 24 August 2015
Accepted: 11 February 2016
Aims. It is still unknown how magnetic field-generation mechanisms could operate in low-mass dwarf galaxies. Here, we present a detailed study of a nearby pure-disk dwarf galaxy NGC 2976. Unlike previously observed dwarf objects, this galaxy possesses a clearly defined disk. We also discuss whether NGC 2976 could serve as a potential source of the intergalactic magnetic field.
Methods. For the purpose of our studies, we performed deep multi-frequency polarimetric observations of NGC 2976 with the VLA and Effelsberg radio telescopes. Additionally, we supplement them with re-imaged data from the WSRT-SINGS survey for which a rotation measure (RM) synthesis was performed. A new weighting scheme for the RM synthesis algorithm, consisting of including information about the quality of data in individual frequency channels, was proposed and investigated. Application of this new weighting to the simulated data, as well as to the observed data, results in an improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio in the Faraday depth space.
Results. The magnetic field morphology discovered in NGC 2976 consists of a southern polarized ridge. This structure does not seem to be due to just a pure large-scale dynamo process (possibly cosmic-ray driven) at work in this object, as indicated by the RM data and dynamo number calculations. Instead, the field of NGC 2976 is modified by past gravitational interactions and possibly also by ram pressure inside the M 81 galaxy group environment. The estimates of total (7 μG) and ordered (3 μG) magnetic field strengths, as well as degree of field order (0.46), which is similar to those observed in spirals, suggest that tidally generated magnetized gas flows can further enhance dynamo action in the object. NGC 2976 is apparently a good candidate for the efficient magnetization of its neighbourhood. It is able to provide an ordered (perhaps also regular) magnetic field into the intergalactic space up to a distance of about 5 kpc.
Conclusions. Tidal interactions (and possibly also ram pressure) can lead to the formation of unusual magnetic field morphologies (like polarized ridges) in galaxies out of the star-forming disks, which do not follow any observed component of the interstellar medium (ISM), as observed in NGC 2976. These galaxies are able to provide ordered magnetic fields far out of their main disks.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: magnetic fields / galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: individual: NGC 2976
© ESO, 2016