What makes our Galaxy’s ecosystem so fascinating is the complex interactions between its components: stars, gas, dust, magnetic fields, and cosmic rays. Of these components, the Galactic magnetic field may well be the most enigmatic. Only partially observable through indirect means, its study relies heavily on modeling, almost exclusively using polarised radio emission. Although much has been learned, many questions are still unanswered especially about fluctuations in the field on small scales. Traditional methods to measure the magnetic field in the galaxy are limited in the detail that they can provide.
In MAGALOPS, researchers are working on developing a 3D- ‘standard model’ of the magnetic field in our Galaxy. They will apply a method involving measuring the optical polarisation of starlight to better chart the magnetic field in our galaxy in 3 dimensions and including small-scale fluctuations. These observations will be analysed with the software framework IMAGINE that was developed to create and test models of the Galaxy’s magnetic field.
Ecosystem of our Milky Way
Researchers expect that MAGALOPS will result in a next-generation Galactic magnetic field model that includes all kinds of different data, and can use prior knowledge of the field. It will allow mapping out interstellar magnetized turbulence in the Galaxy, instead of providing averaged parameters only, and understanding the interplay between the local magnetic field, gas and dust. This model can also be used in other astrophysical research such as cosmic ray modeling or Cosmic Microwave Background polarisation. Its legacy is a 1000x increased stellar polarization catalog, and its observational analysis. You can find more information on the MAGALOPS-website.