Exploring magnetic field structure in star-forming cores with polarization of thermal dust emission

Akimasa Kataoka, Masahiro N. Machida, Kohji Tomisaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The configuration and evolution of the magnetic field in star-forming cores are investigated in order to directly compare simulations and observations. We prepare four different initial clouds having different magnetic field strengths and rotation rates, in which magnetic field lines are aligned/misaligned with the rotation axis. First, we calculate the evolution of such clouds from the prestellar stage until long after protostar formation. Then, we calculate the polarization of thermal dust emission expected from the simulation data. We create polarization maps with arbitrary viewing angles and compare them with observations. Using this procedure, we confirmed that the polarization distribution projected on the celestial plane strongly depends on the viewing angle of the cloud. Thus, by comparing the observations with the polarization map predicted by the simulations, we can roughly determine the angle between the direction of the global magnetic field and the line of sight. The configuration of the polarization vectors also depends on the viewing angle. We find that an hourglass configuration of magnetic field lines is not always realized in a collapsing cloud when the global magnetic field is misaligned with the cloud rotation axis. Depending on the viewing angle, an S-shaped configuration of the magnetic field (or the polarization vectors) appears early in the protostellar accretion phase. This indicates that not only the magnetic field but also the cloud rotation affects the dynamical evolution of such a cloud. In addition, by comparing the simulated polarization with actual observations, we can estimate properties of the host cloud such as the evolutionary stage, magnetic field strength, and rotation rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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