Far-infrared polarization spectrum of the OMC-1 star-forming region

Joseph M. Michail*, Peter C. Ashton, Marc G. Berthoud, David T. Chuss, C. Darren Dowell, Jordan A. Guerra, Doyal A. Harper, Giles Novak, Fabio P. Santos, Javad Siah, Ezra Sukay, Aster Taylor, Le Ngoc Tram, John E. Vaillancourt, Edward J. Wollack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We analyze the wavelength dependence of the far-infrared polarization fraction toward the OMC-1 star-forming region using observations from HAWC+/SOFIA at 53, 89, 154, and 214 μm. We find that the shape of the far-infrared polarization spectrum is variable across the cloud and that there is evidence of a correlation between the slope of the polarization spectrum and the average line-of-sight temperature. The slope of the polarization spectrum tends to be negative (falling toward longer wavelengths) in cooler regions and positive or flat in warmer regions. This is very similar to what was discovered in ρ Oph A via SOFIA polarimetry at 89 and 154 μm. Like the authors of this earlier work, we argue that the most natural explanation for our falling spectra is line-of-sight superposition of differing grain populations, with polarized emission from the warmer regions and less-polarized emission from the cooler ones. In contrast with the earlier work on ρ Oph A, we do not find a clear correlation of polarization spectrum slope with column density. This suggests that falling spectra are attributable to variations in grain alignment efficiency in a heterogeneous cloud consistent with radiative torques theory. Alternative explanations in which variations in grain alignment efficiency are caused by varying gas density rather than by varying radiation intensity are disfavored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberabd090
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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