Submillimeter polarimetric observations of the galactic center

G. Novak*, J. L. Dotson, C. D. Dowell, R. H. Hildebrand, T. Renbarger, D. A. Schleuning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We report the first detection of polarized submillimeter emission from the Sagittarius A region at the Galactic center. We observed three separate 2′ × 2′ fields: one centered on the circumnuclear disk, one centered on the peak of the molecular cloud M-0.02-0.07 (also called the "50 km s-1 cloud"), and one centered on the peak of the molecular cloud M-0.13-0.08 (also called the "20 km s-1 cloud"). Linear polarization at λ = 350 μm was detected in each of the three regions, at a total of 106 distinct sky positions. In the circumnuclear disk, the projected magnetic field directions that we infer from our measurements are similar to those inferred from previous far-infrared (λ = 100 μm) polarimetry. In the "curved ridge" region of M-0.02-0.07 that has been compressed by the expansion of Sgr A East, our results show clearly the effects of this compression on the magnetic field. In M -0.13-0.08, we observe what appears to be a stretched magnetic field, as expected for this tidally sheared cloud. It has been suggested that a "finger-like extension" or "streamer" from M-0.13-0.08 is falling into the circumnuclear disk. We tentatively interpret a flaring of magnetic field lines that we see in M-0.13-0.08 as evidence that the entire cloud has a velocity component in the Galactic eastern direction, i.e., toward the circumnuclear disk. Further observations are needed to test this interpretation. We argue that polarimetry of dust emission provides a promising tool for obtaining new information on the complex dynamics of neutral gas in the Galactic center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-250
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2000


  • Galaxy: center
  • ISM: individual (Sagittarius A)
  • ISM: magnetic fields
  • Infrared: ISM: continuum
  • Polarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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