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Crazy little things called, interstellar dust and magnetic fields
As a new Nordita postdoc I would like to introduce myself and my
research on the physics of the dusty and magnetized interstellar medium (ISM) in the Milky Way. The study of the ISM is key both for
astrophysical processes in the local Universe, namely for star formation
in the Galaxy, and for accurately probing the cosmic times, as the ISM
is an unavoidable filter for primordial lights coming to us.
The ISM is a mixture of cosmic rays, multi-phase gas, and dust
particles, all coupled with magnetic fields. It is through their
interactions that a complex, and still unclear, cycle leads diffuse/warm
matter to condense into denser/colder regions, where stars eventually
form. For decades, one difficult challenge of observational Astrophysics
has been the characterization of magnetic fields along this evolutionary
Today, thanks to the breakthrough of new experiments, such as the Planck satellite, we are now entering a new era to probe magnetic properties in the ISM.
After reviewing the state-of-the-art investigation of magnetic fields in
the Milky Way, in this talk I will give an overview of the recent
results obtained by the Planck Consortium. Using unprecedented maps of linear polarization at sub-millimeter wavelengths, we traced the
magnetic-field structure of our own Galaxy over the whole sky. I will
present the data and focus on two main aspects: the role of magnetic
fields in matter-structure formation from the diffuse ISM to the regions
where star formation takes place; the impact of such ISM studies on
high-precision cosmology stressing the synergy between the two fields.