This Joint Legacy Program aims to construct a comprehensive empirical picture of the magnetic field strength and structure in the multiphase ISM of galaxies. For the first time, we will construst a FIR polarimetric survey of nearby galaxies. We will combine these results with radio polarimetric and optical spectroscopic observations to obtain magnetic field strength/structure and gas dynamics as a function of host galaxy properties and kpc-scale galactic environment. The wide-field, multi-wavelength polarimetric observations from this Legacy Program will be a transformative leap that will establish the foundational framework of the kpc-scale magnetic field structure in the molecular gas disks of nearby galaxies.


Our team is comprised of an international group of recognized experts in the field of magnetic fields of galaxies, IR and radio polarimetric observations, and Herschel and HAWC+ instrumentation. The primary aim of this team is to maximize the science output of the FIR and radio polarimetric data to understand the magnetic fields in the multi-phase interstellar medium of galaxies. Secondary to the science is a strong commitment to ensuring as appropriate the best possible balance in demographics, including gender, career position, and nationality.

The overall responsibility of this program resides with the two co-PIs, Dr. Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez in the USA and Dr. Sui Ann Mao in Germany, and their Science Working Group.

Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez (co-PI) Sui Ann Mao (co-PI)
KIPAC/Stanford Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Dr. Lopez-Rodriguez is leading the efforts on the FIR observations, data analysis, and interpretation. Dr. Mao is leading the efforts on the radio polarimetric observations, data analysis, and interpretation.

The project’s work is structured into several teams, and each team lead reports to the co-PIs. The Science Working Group oversees the efforts to achieve the science goals of this project, and their members inspire and motivate the rest of the team to build linkages between the SOFIA Legacy project and other aspects of the astronomical community. In particular, this includes collaborations with teams from large projects on other observatories (like the nearby galaxy surveys on Spitzer and Herschel) and ongoing closely related work (like ground-based and balloon observations of sub-mm polarization).

Science Working Group

Member Institution
Rainer Beck Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany
John Beckman Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain
Susan Clark KIPAC/Stanford University, USA
Daniel Dale University of Wyoming, USA
Tanio Diaz-Santos University of Crete, Greece
Darren C. Dowell JPL, USA
Doyal A. Harper University of Chicago, USA
Annie Hughes IRAP, Toulouse, France
Pamela Marcum NASA Ames Research Center, USA
Ignacio Moral Castillo Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain
Sergio Martin Alvarez KIPAC/Stanford University, USA
Evangelia Ntormousi University of Crete, Greece
Gina Panopoulou CalTech, USA
William T. Reach SOFIA Science Center, USA
Julia Roman-Duval Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), USA
Kandaswamy Subramanian Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, India
Mehrnoosh Tahani KIPAC/Stanford University, USA
Konstantinos Tassis University of Crete, Greece
Ngoc Tram Le Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany
Ellen Zweibel University of Wisconsin, USA


Python scripts will be available soon.

Description Link
GitHub repository of the Legacy Program galmagfields in GitHub
Python code used for the analysis of M51 Borlaff et al. (2021; Zenodo link)
White paper describing the data format of HAWC+ Gordon et al. (2018)