Physics and Astronomy Publications

Title

Fitting an Analytic Magnetic Field to a Prestellar Core

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-16-2021

Journal

Astrophysical Journal

Volume

911

Issue

1

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.3847/1538-4357/abe6a4

Abstract

We deploy and demonstrate the capabilities of the magnetic field model developed by Ewertowski & Basu by fitting observed polarimetry data of the prestellar core FeSt 1-457. The analytic hourglass magnetic field function derived directly from Maxwell's equations yields a central-to-surface magnetic field strength ratio in the equatorial plane, as well as magnetic field directions with relative magnitudes throughout the core. This fit emerges from a comparison of a single plane of the model with the polarization map that results from the integrated properties of the magnetic field and dust throughout the core. Importantly, our fit is independent of any assumed density profile of the core. We check the robustness of the fit by using the POLARIS code to create synthetic polarization maps that result from the integrated scattering and emission properties of the dust grains and their radiative transfer, employing an observationally motivated density profile. We find that the synthetic polarization maps obtained from the model also provide a good fit to the observed polarimetry. Our model fits the striking feature of significant curvature of magnetic field lines in the outer part of FeSt 1-457. Combined with independent column density estimates, we infer that the core of size R gas has a mildly supercritical mass-to-flux ratio and may have formed through dynamical motions starting from a significantly larger radius R. A breakdown of flux freezing through neutral-ion slip (ambipolar diffusion) could be responsible for effecting such a transition from a large-scale magnetic field structure to a more compact gas structure.

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