Is there a left-handed magnetic field in the solar neighborhood?

Bracco, A., Candelaresi, S. , Del Sordo, F. and Brandenburg, A. (2019) Is there a left-handed magnetic field in the solar neighborhood? Astronomy and Astrophysics, 621, A97. (doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201833961)

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Context. The analysis of the full-sky Planck polarization data at 850 μm revealed unexpected properties of the E- and B-mode power spectra of dust emission in the interstellar medium (ISM). The positive cross-correlations over a wide range of angular scales between the total dust intensity, T, and both E and (most of all) B modes has raised new questions about the physical mechanisms that affect dust polarization, such as the Galactic magnetic field structure. This is key both to better understanding ISM dynamics and to accurately describing Galactic foregrounds to the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). In particular, in the quest to find primordial B modes of the CMB, the observed positive cross-correlation between T and B for interstellar dust requires further investigation towards parity-violating processes in the ISM. Aims. In this theoretical paper we investigate the possibility that the observed cross-correlations in the dust polarization power spectra, and specifically the one between T and B, can be related to a parity-odd quantity in the ISM such as the magnetic helicity. Methods. We produce synthetic dust polarization data, derived from 3D analytical toy models of density structures and helical magnetic fields, to compare with the E and B modes of observations. We present several models. The first is an ideal fully helical isotropic case, such as the Arnold-Beltrami-Childress field. Second, following the nowadays favored interpretation of the T–E signal in terms of the observed alignment between the magnetic field morphology and the filamentary density structure of the diffuse ISM, we design models for helical magnetic fields wrapped around cylindrical interstellar filaments. Lastly, focusing on the observed T–B correlation, we propose a new line of interpretation of the Planck observations advocating the presence of a large-scale helical component of the Galactic magnetic field in the solar neighborhood. Results. Our analysis shows that: I) the sign of magnetic helicity does not affect E and B modes for isotropic magnetic-field configurations; II) helical magnetic fields threading interstellar filaments cannot reproduce the Planck results; and III) a weak helical left-handed magnetic field structure in the solar neighborhood may explain the T–B correlation seen in the Planck data. Such a magnetic-field configuration would also account for the observed large-scale T–E correlation. Conclusions. This work suggests a new perspective for the interpretation of the dust polarization power spectra that supports the imprint of a large-scale structure of the Galactic magnetic field in the solar neighborhood.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:y. The work of Axel Brandenburg was supported by the National Science Foundation through the Astrophysics and Astronomy Grant Program (grant 1615100) and the University of Colorado through the George Ellery Hale visiting faculty appointment. Simon Candelaresi acknowledges support from the UK’s STFC (grant number ST/K000993).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Candelaresi, Dr Simon
Authors: Bracco, A., Candelaresi, S., Del Sordo, F., and Brandenburg, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Journal Name:Astronomy and Astrophysics
Publisher:EDP Sciences
ISSN (Online):1432-0746
Published Online:15 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 ESO
First Published:First published in Astronomy and Astrophysics 621: A97
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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