Characterizing maser polarization: effects of saturation, anisotropic pumping, and hyperfine structure
Journal article, 2019

Context. The polarization of masers contains information on the magnetic field strength and direction of the regions they occur in. Many maser polarization observations have been performed over the last 30 years. However, versatile maser polarization models that can aide in the interpretation of these observations are not available.

Aims. We developed a program suite that can compute the polarization by a magnetic field of any non-paramagnetic maser species at arbitrarily high maser saturation. Furthermore, we investigated the polarization of masers by non-Zeeman polarizing effects. We present a general interpretive structure for maser polarization observations.

Methods. We expanded existing maser polarization theories of non-paramagnetic molecules and incorporated them in a numerical modeling program suite.

Results. We present a modeling program called CHAracterizes Maser Polarization (CHAMP) that can examine the polarization of masers of arbitrarily high maser saturation and high angular momentum. Hyperfine multiplicity of the maser-transition can also be incorporated. The user is able to investigate non-Zeeman polarizing mechanisms such as anisotropic pumping and polarized incident seed radiation. We present an analysis of the polarization of v = 1 SiO masers and the 22 GHz water maser. We comment on the underlying polarization mechanisms, and also investigate non-Zeeman effects.

Conclusions. We identify the regimes where different polarizing mechanisms will be dominant and present the polarization characteristics of the SiO and water masers. From the results of our calculations, we identify markers to recognize alternative polarization mechanisms. We show that comparing randomly generated linear versus circular polarization (pL − pV) scatter-plots at fixed magnetic field strength to the observationally obtained pL − pV scatter can be a promising method of ascertaining the average magnetic field strength of a large number of masers.


Boy Lankhaar

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics

Wouter Vlemmings

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics

0004-6361 (ISSN) 1432-0746 (eISSN)

Vol. 628 A14

Fundamental physics, magnetic fields and gravity with recent and future radio interferometers

Swedish Research Council (VR) (2014-5713), 2014-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.

Magnetic fields and the outflows during the formation and evolution of stars (OUTFLOWMAGN)

European Commission (EC) (EC/FP7/614264), 2014-05-01 -- 2019-04-30.

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences



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