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Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), the cryogenic infrared space telescope recently pre-selected for a ‘Phase A’ concept study as one of the three remaining candidates for European Space Agency (ESA's) fifth medium class (M5) mission, is foreseen to include a far-infrared polarimetric imager [SPICA-POL, now called B-fields with BOlometers and Polarizers (B-BOP)], which would offer a unique opportunity to resolve major issues in our understanding of the nearby, cold magnetised Universe. This paper presents an overview of the main science drivers for B-BOP, including high dynamic range polarimetric imaging of the cold interstellar medium (ISM) in both our Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Thanks to a cooled telescope, B-BOP will deliver wide-field 100–350 $\mu$m images of linearly polarised dust emission in Stokes Q and U with a resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and both intensity and spatial dynamic ranges comparable to those achieved by Herschel images of the cold ISM in total intensity (Stokes I). The B-BOP 200 $\mu$m images will also have a factor $\sim $30 higher resolution than Planck polarisation data. This will make B-BOP a unique tool for characterising the statistical properties of the magnetised ISM and probing the role of magnetic fields in the formation and evolution of the interstellar web of dusty molecular filaments giving birth to most stars in our Galaxy. B-BOP will also be a powerful instrument for studying the magnetism of nearby galaxies and testing Galactic dynamo models, constraining the physics of dust grain alignment, informing the problem of the interaction of cosmic rays with molecular clouds, tracing magnetic fields in the inner layers of protoplanetary disks, and monitoring accretion bursts in embedded protostars.
The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey investigates the interplay of star formation activity and the the metal-poor gas and dust of local universe dwarf galaxies using FIR and submillimetre imaging spectroscopic and photometric observations in the 50 to 550 μm window of the Herschel Space Observatory. The dust spectral-energy distributions are well constrained with the new Herschel and MIR Spitzer data. A submillimetre excess is often found in low metallicity galaxies, which, if tracing very cold dust, would highlight large dust masses not easily reconciled in some cases, given the low metallicities and expected gas-to-dust mass ratios. The galaxies are also mapped in the FIR fine-structure lines (63 and 145 μm OI, 158 μm CII, 122 and 205 μm NII, 88 μm OIII) probing the low density ionised gas, the HII regions and photodissociation regions. While still early in the mission we can already see, along with earlier studies, that line ratios in the metal-poor ISM differ remarkably from those in the metal-rich starburst environments. In dwarf galaxies, L[CII]/L(CO) (≥104) is at least an order of magnitude greater than in the most metal-rich starburst galaxies. The 88 μm [OIII] line usually dominates the FIR line emission over galaxy-wide scales, not the 158 μm [CII] line which is the dominant FIR cooling line in metal-rich galaxies. All of the FIR lines together can contribute 1% to 2% of the LTIR. The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy survey will provide statistical information on the nature of the dust and gas in low metallicity galaxies and place constraints on chemical evolution models of galaxies.
The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey investigates the metal enrichment of the dust and gas in galaxies through observations of the local universe dwarf galaxies via the new far-infrared (FIR) and submillimetre imaging spectroscopic and photometric observations from the recently launched Herschel Space Observatory. The dust spectral energy distributions can now be constrained out to submm wavelengths and often show a submm excess in the low metallicity galaxies, which, if tracing very cold dust, could highlight large dust masses, sometimes not easily reconciled with their low-metallicity and observed gas mass. Additionally, Herschel observations of the FIR fine-structure lines probe the low density ionised gas, the HII regions and photodissociation regions. L[CII]/LCO is remarkably high in dwarf galaxies – typically an order of magnitude larger than more metal-rich starburst galaxies, pointing to a potentially significant reservoir of H2 not traced by CO but shielded in the C+-emitting envelopes. Thus a more accurate estimate of the molecular gas mass in low metallicity galaxies will be via the (CO + [CII]) to H2 conversion factor. The 88 μm [OIII] line is the brightest of all FIR lines in low-metallicity galaxies, sometimes 1.5 to 2 time brighter than the 158 μm [CII] line which is usually the dominate FIR coolant in normal spiral and starburst galaxies. The 88 μm [OIII] line may become the workhorse diagnostic for the high-redshift low-metallicity galaxies which will be targets for future submm observatories, such as ALMA. Further observations from The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy survey will provide a more complete picture of the nature of the dust and gas in low metallicity galaxies and thus a more comprehensive view of the chemical evolution of galaxies.
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