Dispersion of observed position angles of submillimeter polarization in Molecular Clouds

G. Novak, J. L. Dotson, H. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


One can estimate the characteristic magnetic field strength in Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs) by comparing submillimeter polarimetric observations of these sources with simulated polarization maps developed using a range of different values for the assumed field strength. The point of comparison is the degree of order in the distribution of polarization position angles. In a recent paper by H. Li and collaborators, such a comparison was carried out using SPARO observations of two GMCs, and employing simulations by E. Ostriker and collaborators. Here, we re-examine this same question, using the same data set and the same simulations, but using an approach that differs in several respects. The most important difference is that we incorporate new, higher angular resolution observations for one of the clouds, obtained using the Hertz polarimeter. We conclude that the agreement between observations and simulations is best when the total magnetic energy (including both uniform and fluctuating field components) is at least as large as the turbulent kinetic energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1362-1369
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • ISM: magnetic fields
  • Polarization
  • Stars: formation
  • Submillimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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