SCUBA polarization observations of the magnetic fields in the pre-stellar cores L1498 and L1517B

J. M. Kirk, D. Ward-Thompson, R. M. Crutcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have mapped linearly polarized dust emission from the pre-stellar cores L1498 and L1517B with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) using the Submillimetre Common User Bolometer Array (SCUBA) and its polarimeter (SCUBAPOL) at a wavelength of 850 μm. We use these measurements to determine the plane-of-sky magnetic field orientation in the cores. In L1498, we see a magnetic field across the peak of the core that lies at an offset of ∼19° ± 12° to the short axis of the core. This is similar to the offsets seen in previous observations of pre-stellar cores. To the south-east of the peak, in the filamentary tail of the core, we see that the magnetic field has rotated to lie almost parallel to the long axis of the filament. We hypothesize that the field in the core may have decoupled from the field in the filament that connects the core to the rest of the cloud. We use the Chandrasekhar-Fermi (CF) method to measure the plane-of-sky field strength in the core of L1498 to be ∼10 ± 7 μG. In L1517B, we see a more gradual turn in the field direction from the northern part of the core to the south. This appears to follow a twist in the filament in which the core is buried, with the field staying at a roughly constant ∼25° ± 6° offset to the short axis of the filament, consistent with previous observations of pre-stellar cores. Hence these two clouds in an apparently similar evolutionary state, that exhibit similar masses, morphologies and densities, have very different magnetic field configurations. We again use the CF method and calculate the magnetic field strength in L1517B to be ∼30 ± 10 μG. Both cores appear to be roughly virialized. Comparison with our previous work on somewhat denser cores shows that, for the denser cores, thermal and non-thermal (including magnetic) support are approximately equal, while for the lower density cores studied here, thermal support dominates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1450
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: individual: L1498
  • ISM: individual: L1517B
  • ISM: magnetic fields
  • Polarization
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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