Magnetic Field Structure in Perseus at 0.01 pc Scale

Project: Research project

Project Details


The ion-neutral decoupling scale is one of the fundamental quantities governing the physics of the star formation process. For a weakly ionized gas, such as that encountered in star-forming regions, this scale corresponds to the smallest scale at which the magnetic field is frozen to the mostly-neutral gas. Beneath this scale, turbulence in the magnetic field will be significantly damped and MHD waves will be unable to propagate. Although some observational evidence has been obtained for this diffusion scale, all consistent with expectations from theoretical and simulation studies, a direct and definitive detection has yet to be realized.

We thus propose to use the newly commissioned HAWC+ polarimeter on SOFIA to perform observations at high sensitivity and angular resolution on three distinct regions in the nearby Perseus molecular cloud. These measurements in the C, D, and E bands will allow the detection of several hundred polarization vectors at resolutions of, respectively, 11 mpc, 20 mpc, and 27 mpc at the distance of Perseus. We will then be able to resolve the expected ion-neutral decoupling at the expected scale (around 45 mpc) for the densities probed by our observations (approximately 10000 particles per cubic cm). Analyses of these data using state-of-the-art methods (e.g., the angular dispersion and the Histograms of Relative Orientations methods) will allow us to characterize the turbulence power spectrum and provide the magnetic field information necessary to test the results and predictions from both numerical simulations and analytical studies.
Effective start/end date4/25/184/24/20


  • Universities Space Research Association (SOF-06-0099-Santos//NNA17BF53C)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (SOF-06-0099-Santos//NNA17BF53C)


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