Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

Contributed Papers

A review of maser polarization and magnetic fields

W. H. T. Vlemmingsa1a2

a1 Argelander Institute for Astronomy, University of Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany

a2 Jodrell Bank Observatory, Univ. of Manchester, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 9DL, U.K. email: Wouter.Vlemmings@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract

Through polarization observations masers are unique probes of the magnetic field in a variety of different astronomical objects, with the different maser species tracing different physical conditions. In recent years maser polarization observations have provided insights in the magnetic field strength and morphology in, among others, the envelopes around evolved stars, Planetary Nebulae (PNe), massive star forming regions and supernova remnants. More recently, maser observations have even been used to determine the magnetic field in megamaser galaxies. This review will present an overview of maser polarization observations and magnetic field determinations of the last several years and discuss the implications of the magnetic field measurements for several important fields of study, such as aspherical PNe creation and massive star formation.

Keywords

  • masers;
  • polarization;
  • magnetic fields