Local Measurements of the Mean Interstellar Polarization at High Galactic Latitudes [GA]


We conduct a small-scale pathfinding survey designed to identify the average polarization properties of the diffuse ISM locally at the lowest dust content regions. We perform deep optopolarimetric surveys within three $\sim 15′ \times 15’$ regions located at $b > 48^\circ$, using the RoboPol instrument. The observed samples of stars are photometrically complete to $\sim$16 mag in the R-band. The selected regions exhibit low dust emission at 353 GHz and low total reddening compared to the majority of high-latitude sightlines. We measure the level of systematic uncertainty for all observing epochs and find it to be 0.1\% in fractional linear polarization, $p$. The majority of individual stellar measurements are non-detections. However, our survey strategy enables us to locate the mean fractional linear polarization $p_{mean}$ in each of the three regions. The region with lowest dust content yields $p_{mean}=(0.054 \pm 0.038) \%$, not significantly different from zero. We find significant detections for the remaining two regions of: $p_{mean}=(0.113 \pm 0.036) \%$ and $p_{mean}=(0.208 \pm 0.044) \%$. Using a Bayesian approach we provide upper limits on the intrinsic spread of the small-scale distributions of $q$ and $u$. At the detected $p_{mean}$ levels, the determination of the systematic uncertainty is critical for the reliability of the measurements. We verify the significance of our detections with statistical tests, accounting for all sources of uncertainty. Using publicly available HI emission data, we identify the velocity components that most likely account for the observed $p_{mean}$ and find their morphologies to be misaligned with the orientation of the mean plane-of-sky magnetic field at a spatial resolution of 10$\arcmin$. We find indications that the standard upper envelope of $p$ with reddening underestimates the maximum $p$ at very low E(B-V) ($\leq 0.01$ mag).

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R. Skalidis, G. Panopoulou, K. Tassis, et. al.
Wed, 14 Feb 18

Comments: 12 pages, 11 figures, submitted to A\& A, comments welcome