Untangling cosmic magnetic fields: Faraday tomography at metre wavelengths with LOFAR

Shane P. O'Sullivan, M. Brüggen, C. L. Van Eck, M. J. Hardcastle, M. Haverkorn, T. W. Shimwell, C. Tasse, V. Vacca, C. Horellou, G. Heald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The technique of Faraday tomography is a key tool for the study ofmagnetised plasmas in the new era of broadband radio-polarisation observations. In particular, observations at metre wavelengths provide significantly better Faraday depth accuracies compared to traditional centimetre-wavelength observations. However, the effect of Faraday depolarisationmakes the polarised signal very challenging to detect at metre wavelengths (MHz frequencies). In this work, Faraday tomography is used to characterise the Faraday rotation properties of polarised sources found in data from the LOFAR Two-Metre Sky Survey (LoTSS). Of the 76 extragalactic polarised sources analysed here, we find that all host a radio-loud AGN (Active Galactic Nucleus). The majority of the sources (~64%) are large FRII radio galaxies with a median projected linear size of 710 kpc and median radio luminosity at 144 MHz of 4 × 10 26 W Hz -1 (with ~13% of all sources having a linear size > 1 Mpc). In several cases, both hotspots are detected in polarisation at an angular resolution of ~20'. One such case allowed a study of intergalactic magnetic fields on scales of 3.4 Mpc. Other detected source types include an FRI radio galaxy and at least eight blazars. Most sources display simple Faraday spectra, but we highlight one blazar that displays a complex Faraday spectrum, with two close peaks in the Faraday dispersion function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018


  • AGN
  • Faraday tomography
  • Large-scale structure
  • Magnetic fields
  • Milky Way


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