Constraints from Faraday rotation on the magnetic field structure in the Galactic halo
IRAP, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, 9 avenue du Colonel Roche, BP 44346, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 4, France
Received: 23 August 2016
Accepted: 24 November 2016
Aims. We examine the constraints imposed by Faraday rotation measures of extragalactic point sources on the structure of the magnetic field in the halo of our Galaxy. Guided by radio polarization observations of external spiral galaxies, we look in particular into the possibility that field lines in the Galactic halo have an X shape.
Methods. We employ the analytical models of spiraling, possibly X-shape magnetic fields derived in a previous paper to generate synthetic all-sky maps of the Galactic Faraday depth, which we fit to an observational reference map with the help of Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations.
Results. We find that the magnetic field in the Galactic halo is slightly more likely to be bisymmetric (azimuthal wavenumber, m = 1) than axisymmetric (m = 0). If it is indeed bisymmetric, it must appear as X-shaped in radio polarization maps of our Galaxy seen edge-on from outside, but if it is actually axisymmetric, it must instead appear as nearly parallel to the Galactic plane.
Key words: ISM: magnetic fields / Galaxy: halo / galaxies: halos / galaxies: magnetic fields / galaxies: spiral
© ESO, 2017