Volume 647, March 2021
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||04 March 2021|
Evidence for line-of-sight frequency decorrelation of polarized dust emission in Planck data
Institute of Astrophysics, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas,
2 Department of Physics, and Institute for Theoretical and Computational Physics, University of Crete, 70013 Heraklion, Greece
3 Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
4 Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
5 California Institute of Technology, MC350-17, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
6 Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, PO Box 1029 Blindern, 0315 Oslo, Norway
Accepted: 25 January 2021
If a single line of sight (LOS) intercepts multiple dust clouds with different spectral energy distributions and magnetic field orientations, then the frequency scaling of each of the Stokes Q and U parameters of the thermal dust emission may be different, a phenomenon we refer to as LOS frequency decorrelation. We present first evidence for LOS frequency decorrelation in Planck data using independent measurements of neutral-hydrogen (HI) emission to probe the 3D structure of the magnetized interstellar medium (ISM). We use HI-based measurements of the number of clouds per LOS and the magnetic field orientation in each cloud to select two sets of sightlines: (i) a target sample of pixels that are likely to exhibit LOS frequency decorrelation and (ii) a control sample of pixels that lack complex LOS structure. We test the null hypothesis that LOS frequency decorrelation is not detectable in Planck 353 and 217 GHz polarization data at high Galactic latitudes. We reject the null hypothesis at high significance based on data that show that the combined effect of polarization angle variation with frequency and depolarization are detected in the target sample. This detection is robust against the choice of cosmic microwave background (CMB) map and map-making pipeline. The observed change in polarization angle due to LOS frequency decorrelation is detectable above the Planck noise level. The probability that the detected effect is due to noise alone ranges from 5 × 10−2 to 4 × 10−7, depending on the CMB subtraction algorithm and treatment of residual systematic errors; correcting for residual systematic errors consistently increases the significance of the effect. Within the target sample, the LOS decorrelation effect is stronger for sightlines with more misaligned magnetic fields, as expected. With our sample, we estimate that an intrinsic variation of ~15% in the ratio of 353 to 217 GHz polarized emission between clouds is sufficient to reproduce the measured effect. Our finding underlines the importance of ongoing studies to map the three-dimensional structure of the magnetized and dusty ISM that could ultimately help component separation methods to account for frequency decorrelation effects in CMB polarization studies.
Key words: dust, extinction / ISM: magnetic fields / submillimeter: ISM / cosmic background radiation / inflation / polarization
© ESO 2021
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