Three-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: Foreground polarization

A. Kogut, J. Dunkley, C. L. Bennett, O. Doré, B. Gold, M. Halpern, G. Hinshaw, N. Jarosik, E. Komatsu, M. R. Nolta, N. Odegard, L. Page, D. N. Spergel, G. S. Tucker, J. L. Weiland, E. Wollack, E. L. Wright

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113 Scopus citations


We present a full-sky model of polarized Galactic microwave emission based on 3 years of observations by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) at frequencies from 23 to 94 GHz. The model compares maps of the Stokes Q and U components from each of the five WMAP frequency bands in order to separate synchrotron from dust emission, taking into account the spatial and frequency dependence of the synchrotron and dust components. This simple two-component model of the interstellar medium accounts for at least 97% of the polarized emission in the WMAP maps of the microwave sky. Synchrotron emission dominates the polarized foregrounds at frequencies below 50 GHz, and is comparable to the dust contribution at 65 GHz. The spectral index of the synchrotron component, derived solely from polarization data, is -3.2 averaged over the full sky, with a modestly flatter index on the Galactic plane. The synchrotron emission has mean polarization fraction 2%-4% in the Galactic plane and rising to over 20% at high latitude, with prominent features such as the north Galactic spur more polarized than the diffuse component. Thermal dust emission has polarization fraction 1% near the Galactic center, rising to 6% at the anticenter. Diffuse emission from high-latitude dust is also polarized with mean fractional polarization 0.036 ± 0.011.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Cosmic microwave background
  • Dust, extinction
  • Polarization
  • Radio continuum: ISM


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