The polarized disk in M 31 at λ6 cm
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Corresponding author: E. M. Berkhuijsen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 7 November 2002
We present a radio continuum survey of M 31 at λ6.2 cm with high sensitivity in total power and polarization, observed with the 100-m Effelsberg dish with an angular resolution of 2 4. (1) Combination with the VLA + Effelsberg map at λ20.5 cm in total power yielded a spectral index map at resolution. Both the spectrum of the integrated emission and the spectral index distribution across M 31 indicate a nonthermal spectral index . We derived maps of thermal and nonthermal emission at λ6.2 cm. Radial profiles of the various emission components north and south of the minor axis revealed that the stronger total emission in the northern part of M 31 is entirely due to stronger thermal emission, whereas the profiles of nonthermal and polarized emission are nearly identical on either side of the minor axis. This suggests that recent star formation does not lead to a local increase of the number of relativistic electrons and/or magnetic field strength. (2) We discuss several properties of the polarized emission from M 31 and their implications for the magnetic field. At λ6.2 cm the polarized intensity systematically varies along the bright “ring” of emission which shows that the regular magnetic field, , is nearly aligned with the spiral arms forming this “ring”. The variation of the rotation measures between λ11.1 cm and λ6.2 cm, RM(11, 6), across the galaxy confirms this alignment. The nonthermal degree of polarization reaches values > near the polarization maxima, implying that the magnetic field in M 31 is exceptionally regular. (3) We derived the distribution of the nonthermal depolarization between λ11.1 cm and λ6.2 cm, , which is a measure of Faraday depolarization. Gradients in RM(11, 6) may be an important cause of Faraday depolarization in M 31. The lack of anticorrelation between the thermal emission, which comes mainly from dense regions with small filling factors, and RM(11, 6) and indicates that rotation measures and Faraday depolarization originate in the extended diffuse ionized gas.
Key words: galaxies: individual: M 31 / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: magnetic fields / ISM: magnetic fields / radio continuum: galaxies / polarization
© ESO, 2003