The origin of the structure of large-scale magnetic fields in disc galaxies

The large-scale magnetic fields observed in spiral disc galaxies are often thought to result from dynamo action in the disc plane. However, the increasing importance of Faraday depolarization along any line of sight towards the galactic plane suggests that the strongest polarization signal may come from well above (~0.3-1 kpc) this plane, from the vicinity of the warm interstellar medium (WIM)/halo interface. We propose (see also Henriksen & Irwin 2016) that the observed spiral fields (polarization patterns) result from the action of vertical shear on an initially poloidal field. We show that this simple model accounts for the main observed properties of large-scale fields.We speculate as to howcurrent models of optical spiral structure may generate the observed arm/interarm spiral polarization patterns.

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