FIREPLACE (Far-InfaREd Polarimetric Large Area CMZ Exploration)

Magnetic fields are present throughout the Milky Way, and they are particularly evident in its central 500 light years. The FIREPLACE Legacy Survey utilized NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to measure the geometry of this field that is present in the cool dust component of the “Central Molecular Zone (CMZ)” by measuring the polarization of the emission from magnetically-aligned dust grains. Here the results of this survey (Paré+ 2024) are visualized via streamlines. The background image shows a combination of the emission from warm dust (magenta; Herschel/PACS, Molinari+ 2011), cool dust (cyan; Herschel/SPIRE, Molinari+2011), and high energy electrons in the hot magnetized plasma (yellow; MeerKAT, Heywood+ 2021). FIREPLACE data will enable an increased understanding of the role of magnetic fields in the center of our Galaxy and provide insight into the physics of the central engines of galaxies in general.

FIREPLACE is a SOFIA Legacy project led by The Department of Physics at Villanova University (Principal Investigator: David Chuss) and is a multi-institutional collaboration including UCLA, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, JPL, Arkansas Tech, NASA Goddard, and NRAO.

This work is based on observations made with the NASA/DLR Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). SOFIA is jointly operated by the Universities Space Research Association, Inc. (USRA), under NASA contract NNA17BF53C, and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut (DSI) under DLR contract 50 OK 2002 to the University of Stuttgart. Financial support for this work was provided by NASA through award #09-0054 issued by USRA.

The 3-color background image was created by Villanova Student Kaitlyn Karpovich and uses data from European Space Agency (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) MeerKAT Radio Telescope.

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