A quantum mechanical approach to establishing the magnetic field orientation from a maser Zeeman profile

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DOIResolve DOI: http://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stu429
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TypeArticle
Journal titleMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
ISSN0035-8711
1365-2966
Volume440
Issue4
Pages29882996
SubjectMagnetic fields; Masers; Polarization; Radiative transfer
AbstractRecent comparisons of magnetic field directions derived from maser Zeeman splitting with those derived from continuum source rotation measures have prompted new analysis of the propagation of the Zeeman split components, and the inferred field orientation. In order to do this, we first review differing electric field polarization conventions used in past studies. With these clearly and consistently defined, we then show that for a given Zeeman splitting spectrum, the magnetic field direction is fully determined and predictable on theoretical grounds: when a magnetic field is oriented away from the observer, the left-hand circular polarization is observed at higher frequency and the right-hand polarization at lower frequency. This is consistent with classical Lorentzian derivations. The consequent interpretation of recent measurements then raises the possibility of a reversal between the large-scale field (traced by rotation measures) and the small-scale field (traced by maser Zeeman splitting).
Publication date
PublisherOxford University Press
LanguageEnglish
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number23000440
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Record identifier55fdd7bb-1d60-4814-9cac-14a7c1f15f34
Record created2016-07-18
Record modified2016-07-18
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