Polarised emission from aligned dust grains in nearby galaxies: Predictions from the Auriga simulations
Context. Polarised emission from non-spherical dust grains contains information about the alignment of these dust grains and traces the structure of the interstellar magnetic field.
Methods: We post-processed a set of Milky-Way-like galaxies from the Auriga project, assuming a dust mix consisting of spheroidal dust grains that are partially aligned with the model magnetic field. We constrained our dust model using Planck 353 GHz observations of the Milky Way. This model was then extrapolated to shorter wavelengths that cover the peak of interstellar dust emission and to observations of arbitrarily oriented nearby Milky-Way-like galaxies.
Results: Assuming an intrinsic linear polarisation fraction that does not vary significantly with wavelength for wavelengths longer than 50 micron, we predict a linear polarisation fraction with a maximum of 10 − 15% and a median value of ≈7% for face-on galaxies and ≈3% for edge-on galaxies. The polarisation fraction anti-correlates with the line of sight density and with the angular dispersion function which expresses the large-scale order of the magnetic field perpendicular to the line of sight. The maximum linear polarisation fraction agrees well with the intrinsic properties of the dust model. The true magnetic field orientation can be traced along low density lines of sight when it is coherent along the line of sight. These results also hold for nearby galaxies, where a coherent magnetic field structure is recovered over a range of different broad bands.
Conclusions: Polarised emission from non-spherical dust grains accurately traces the large-scale structure of the galactic magnetic field in Milky-Way-like galaxies, with expected maximum linear polarisation fractions of 10 − 15%. To resolve this maximum, a spatial resolution of at least 1 kpc is required.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- September 2021
- methods: numerical;
- radiative transfer;
- galaxies: magnetic fields;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 22 pages, 19 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics