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2007A&A...464..609H - Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 464, 609-614 (2007/3-3)

The Galactic distribution of magnetic fields in molecular clouds and HII regions.

HAN J.L. and ZHANG J.S.

Abstract (from CDS):

Magnetic fields exist on all scales in our Galaxy. There is a controversy about whether the magnetic fields in molecular clouds are preserved from the permeated magnetic fields in the interstellar medium (ISM) during cloud formation. We investigate this controversy using available data in the light of the newly revealed magnetic field structure of the Galactic disk obtained from pulsar rotation measures (RMs). We collected measurements of the magnetic fields in molecular clouds, including Zeeman splitting data of OH masers in clouds and OH or HI absorption or emission lines of clouds themselves. The Zeeman data show structures in the sign distribution of the line-of-sight component of the magnetic field. Compared to the large-scale Galactic magnetic fields derived from pulsar RMs, the sign distribution of the Zeeman data shows similar large-scale field reversals. Previous such examinations were flawed in the over-simplified global model used for the large-scale magnetic fields in the Galactic disk. We conclude that the magnetic fields in the clouds may still remember'' the directions of magnetic fields in the Galactic ISM to some extent, and could be used as complementary tracers of the large-scale magnetic structure. More Zeeman data of OH masers in widely distributed clouds are required.