Research by SOFIA scientist John Vaillancourt (Universities Space Research Association, NASA Ames Research Center, Calif.) and Brenda C. Matthews (Herzberg Institute, National Research Council of Canada, Victoria, B.C., Canada) on interstellar clouds in the Milky Way Galaxy was recently published in the The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, a venue for presentation of very large data sets. The work, titled Submillimeter Polarization of Galactic Clouds: A Comparison of 350 micron and 850 micron Data, used data from two telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii – the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO; 350 microns) and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT; 850 microns) for the study.

The researchers identified 15 clouds which these two data sets have in common and compare the polarization amplitudes and position angles at the two wavelengths. This more than triples the number of clouds at which direct polarization comparisons have been made at 350 and 850 microns. Among other uses, these data indicate the properties of solid particles plus the direction and strength of the Galactic magnetic field in these clouds.

Vaillancourt and Matthews’ results were published June 22, 2012, in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Volume 201, Number 2. More details are available here.

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