Mapping the Interstellar Magnetic Field Around the Heliosphere with Polarized Starlight

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Starlight that becomes linearly polarized by magnetically aligned dust grains provides a viable diagnostic of the interstellar magnetic field (ISMF). A survey is underway to map the local ISMF using data collected at eight observatories in both hemispheres. Two approaches are used to obtain the magnetic structure: statistically evaluating magnetic field directions traced by multiple polarization position angles, and least-squares fits that provide the dipole component of the magnetic field. We find that the magnetic field in the circumheliospheric interstellar medium (CHM), which drives winds of interstellar gas and dust through the heliosphere, drapes over the heliopause and influences polarization measurements. We discover a polarization band that can be described with a great circle that traverses the heliosphere nose and ecliptic poles. A gap in the band appears in a region coinciding both with the highest heliosheath pressure, found by IBEX, and the center of the Loop I superbubble. The least-squares analysis finds a magnetic dipole component of the polarization band with the axis oriented toward the ecliptic poles. The filament of dust around the heliosphere and the warm helium breeze flowing through the heliosphere trace the same magnetic field directions. Regions along the polarization band near the heliosphere nose have magnetic field orientations within 15 degrees of sightlines. Regions in the IBEX ribbon have field directions within 40 degrees of the plane of the sky. Several spatially coherent magnetic filaments are within 15 pc. Most of the low frequency radio emissions detected by the two Voyager spacecraft follow the polarization band. The geometry of the polarization band is compared to the Local Interstellar Cloud, the Cetus Ripple, the BICEP2 low opacity region, Ice Cube IC59 galactic cosmic ray data, and Cassini results.
  • Authors

  • Frisch, PC
  • Berdyugin, AB
  • Piirola, V
  • Cole, AA
  • Hill, K
  • Harlingten, C
  • Magalhaes, AM
  • Seriacopi, DB
  • Ferrari, T
  • Ribeiro, NL
  • Santos, FP
  • Cotton, DV
  • Bailey, J
  • Kedziora-Chudczer, L
  • Marshall, JP
  • Bott, K
  • Wiktorowicz, SJ
  • Heiles, C
  • McComas, DJ
  • Funsten, HO
  • Schwadron, Nathan
  • Livadiotis, G
  • Redfield, S
  • Publication Date

  • June 2018
  • Published In

  • ArXiv e-prints  Journal
  • Keywords

  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.SR