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Statistical Tests of Galactic Dynamo Theory

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Luke Chamandy, Professor Anvar ShukurovORCiD


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Mean-field galactic dynamo theory is the leading theory to explain the prevalence of regular magnetic fields in spiral galaxies, but its systematic comparison with observations is still incomplete and fragmentary. Here we compare predictions of mean-field dynamo models to observational data on magnetic pitch angle and the strength of the mean magnetic field. We demonstrate that a standard alpha(2)Omega dynamo model produces pitch angles of the regular magnetic fields of nearby galaxies that are reasonably consistent with available data. The dynamo estimates of the magnetic field strength are generally within a factor of a few of the observational values. Reasonable agreement between theoretical and observed pitch angles generally requires the turbulent correlation time tau to be in the range of. 10-20 Myr, in agreement with standard estimates. Moreover, good agreement also requires that the ratio of the ionized gas scale height to root-mean-square turbulent velocity increases with radius. Our results thus widen the possibilities to constrain interstellar medium parameters using observations of magnetic fields. This work is a step toward systematic statistical tests of galactic dynamo theory. Such studies are becoming more and more feasible as larger data sets are acquired using current and up-and-coming instruments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chamandy L, Shukurov A, Taylor AR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Astrophysical Journal

Year: 2016

Volume: 833

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 06/12/2016

Acceptance date: 16/09/2016

ISSN (print): 0004-637X

ISSN (electronic): 1538-4357

Publisher: IOP Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/833/1/43


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Funder referenceFunder name
RPG-2014-427Leverhulme Trust