Far-infrared polarimetry from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

John E. Vaillancourt, David T. Chuss, Richard M. Crutcher, Jessie L. Dotson, C. Darren Dowell, D. Al Harper, Roger H. Hildebrand, Terry J. Jones, Alexandre Lazarian, Giles Novak, Michael W. Werner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Multi-wavelength imaging polarimetry at far-infrared wavelengths has proven to be an excellent tool for studying the physical properties of dust, molecular clouds, and magnetic fields in the interstellar medium. Although these wavelengths are only observable from airborne or space-based platforms, no first-generation instrument for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is presently designed with Polarimetrie capabilities. We study several options for upgrading the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC) to a sensitive FIR Polarimeter. HAWC is a 12 × 32 pixel bolometer camera designed to cover the 53-215 μm spectral range in 4 colors, all at diffraction-limited resolution (5 - 21 arcsec). Upgrade options include: (1) an external set of optics which modulates the polarization state of the incoming radiation before entering the cryostat window; (2) internal polarizing optics; and (3) a replacement of the current detector array with two state-of-the-art superconducting bolometer arrays, an upgrade of the HAWC camera as well as Polarimeter. We discuss a range of science studies which will be possible with these upgrades including magnetic fields in star-forming regions and galaxies and the wavelength-dependence of polarization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInfrared Spaceborne Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XV
StatePublished - 2007
EventInfrared Spaceborne Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XV - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 27 2007Aug 30 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherInfrared Spaceborne Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XV
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Airborne astronomy
  • Dust
  • Far-infrared astronomy
  • Instrumentation
  • Interstellar medium
  • Magnetic fields
  • Polarimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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