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The Submillimeter Polarimeter for Antarctic Remote Observing (SPARO) is a 9-pixel lambda = 450 micron polarimetric imager developed by scientists at Northwestern University for use with the Viper telescope. Polarimetric submillimeter observations are used to map interstellar magnetic fields. The advantage of carrying out such observations from the South Pole is that the high atmospheric transmission and stability allows us to apply the polarimetry techniques to regions of low column density that cannot be studied at other sites. The main science goal for SPARO is to map the magnetic field throughout the inner several hundred parsecs of the Milky Way. Magnetic fields are believed to play important roles in infall processes such as the one that is occurring in the Milky Way's nucleus, where a black hole of several million solar masses is believed to have formed. Observations with SPARO will reveal the global configuration of the magnetic field in the nucleus, thus providing tests for theories of gas dynamics in galactic nuclei.


SPARO is scheduled to operate on Viper during October-November 1999. Significant milestones over the last year in preparation for its first South Pole observations include: The primary science goal for austral Winter 2000 will be to map the magnetic field in the central few hundred parsecs of the Galaxy. Secondary goals are polarimetry and photometry of giant molecular clouds, high-latitude clouds, and the nearby cold molecular cloud R CrA.

The group also has a website with more information, including a page with copies of papers on SPARO.


For more information

The group has a website at .

SPARO is based at Northwestern University and is being developed in collaboration with the technical staff of the University of Chicago Engineering Center. For more information, contact Giles Novak, .