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The magnetic field of M 31 from multi-wavelength radio polarization observations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Fletcher, Professor Anvar ShukurovORCiD


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The configuration of the regular magnetic field in M 31 is deduced from radio polarization observations at the wavelengths χχ6, 11 and 20 cm. By fitting the observed azimuthal distribution of polarization angles, we find that the regular magnetic field, averaged over scales 1-3 kpc, is almost perfectly axisymmetric in the radial range 8 to 14 kpc, and follows a spiral pattern with pitch angles of p ≃ -19° to p ≃ -8°. In the ring between 6 and 8 kpc a perturbation of the dominant axisymmetric mode may be present, having the azimuthal wave numberr m = 2. A systematic analysis of the observed depolarization allows us to identify the main mechanism for wavelength dependent depolarization - Faraday rotation measure gradients arising in a magneto-ionic screen above the synchrotron disk. Modelling of the depolarization leads to constraints on the relative scale heights of the thermal and synchrotron emitting layers in M 31; the thermal layer is found to be up to three times thicker than the synchrotron disk. The regular magnetic field must be coherent over a vertical scale at least similar to the scale height of the thermal layer, estimated to be hth ≃ 1 kpc. Faraday effects offer a powerful method to detect thick magneto-ionic disks or halos around spiral galaxies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fletcher A, Berkhuijsen EM, Beck R, Shukurov A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Astronomy and Astrophysics

Year: 2004

Volume: 414

Issue: 1

Pages: 53-67

Print publication date: 01/01/2004

ISSN (print): 0004-6361

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0746

Publisher: EDP Sciences


DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034133


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