Interferometric mapping of magnetic fields in star-forming regions. I. W51 e1/e2 molecular cores

Shih Ping Lai, Richard M. Crutcher, José M. Girart, Ramprasad Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the first interferometric polarization map of the W51 e1/e2 molecular cores, obtained with the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) array at 1.3 mm wavelength, with approximately 3″ resolution. The polarization angle varies smoothly across the double cores with an average position angle of 23° ± 5° for W51 e1 and 15° ± 7° for W51 e2. The inferred magnetic field direction is parallel to the minor axis of the double cores, which is consistent with the theoretical picture that clouds collapse along the field lines. However, the magnetic field may not determine the axis of angular momentum of these two cores, since the field directions of the two cores significantly differ from the previously measured directions of rotational axes. The polarization percentage decreases toward regions with high intensity, suggesting that the dust alignment efficiency decreases toward high-density regions. The field directions are highly ordered, and the small dispersion of the polarization angles implies that magnetic fields are strong (≳1 mG) and perhaps dominate turbulence in W51 e1/e2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-870
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Nov 10 2001


  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: individual (W51)
  • ISM: magnetic fields
  • Polarization
  • Stars: formation
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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