Milky Way

MAGALOPS

The magnetic field of the Galaxy, from optical starlight polarization
Duration
2018 until 2023
Project member(s)
Prof. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk, M. (Marijke) Versteeg-Veltkamp, M.J.F. (José) Angarita Arenas, Y. (Yenifer) Dr Hutschenreuter, S. (Sebastian) Prof. Hörandel, J.R. (Jörg) , Luiz Felippe Santiago Rodrigues , Antonio Mario Magalhães , Claudia Vilega Rodrigues , Reinaldo Santos de Lima , François Boulanger , Torsten Enßlin , Tess Jaffe , Jennifer West , Vincent Guillet
Project type
Research

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.

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. 

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.

View the project website.

Results

The research team expects that MAGALOPS will result in a next-generation Galactic magnetic field model that includes an accurate description of both the global field structure and the small-scale fluctuations.  Both the published model and the IMAGINE software that created it will be publicly available and described in peer-refereed papers. The project will also provide a 1000x increased stellar polarization catalog, the analysis of which will be published in several peer-reviewed papers and two PhD theses.

Funding

Partners

Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.

This website is still under construction. More information: 'a new website'.