Letters of Intent for 2015

LoI 2015-218
Focus Meeting: Understanding Cosmic Magnetism with Next Generation Instruments


4 August 2015 to 6 August 2015


Hawai'i, United States


Melanie Johnston-Hollitt (Melanie.Johnston-Hollitt@vuw.ac.nz)

Coordinating division:

Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science

Co-Chairs of SOC:

Dr Melanie Johnston-Hollitt (Victoria University)
Dr George Heald (ASTRON)

Chair of LOC:




1) Origins of Cosmic Magnetism

2) Capabilities of next generation telescopes for cosmic magnetism

3) Polarisation surveys on next generation instruments

4) Magnetism across the electromagnetic spectrum: Planck, Fermi, LBT, BEST, NHXM, PheniX, C-Bass and ALMA

5) Magnetism of the early Universe
5) The role of magnetic fields in star formation and the ISM

7) Observations of magnetic fields in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies

8) Observations and simulations of magnetic fields in radio galaxies
and the IGM
9) Observations and simulations of magnetic fields in galaxy clusters, filaments and the cosmic web

10) Looking ahead: Magnetism and the SKA



Magnetism is a familiar yet mysterious force. Magnetic fields are ubiquitous in the Universe and their presence is likely to play an important role in the formation and evolution of many astrophysical objects. It has long been known that magnetic fields control the motion of cosmic rays, contribute to the energy budget and strongly affect the energy transfer in many astrophysical objects, and are central to the dynamics and evolution of celestial systems. But despite their importance, the evolution, structure, and origin of magnetic fields are still open problems.

Understanding the magnetic Universe is a major challenge in modern astrophysics. For this reason Cosmic Magnetism has been acknowledged as a key science project of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the worldʼs largest and most sensitive radio telescope. In preparation for SKA, around the world several next-generation radio telescopes and upgrades are either in construction or have recently commenced full operations. Among them, APERTIF, ASKAP, JVLA, LOFAR, MeerKAT, and MWA are outstanding facilities to explore the as yet mysterious magnetic Universe and will provide access to unexplored areas of parameter space. Magnetism will soon also be explored at a broad range of other wavebands using instruments such as Planck, Fermi, LBT, BEST, NHXM, PheniX, C-BASS and ALMA. In addition to this wealth of new instrumentation, recent years have been marked by significant developments in numerical techniques, providing possibilities to simulate plasmas with realistic turbulent magnetic fields and test theoretical models in comparison with the detailed observations expected from new instruments.

In the next few years, several of the new radio facilities mentioned above will be operational. New high-quality data will be available and new magnetic phenomena will be discovered. These new data, combined with progress in numerical techniques, will permit us to track the evolution of magnetic fields in the interstellar medium, in the intracluster medium, at the boundary of galaxy clusters, in the bridges that join clusters, and in the filamentary cosmic web. Therefore, the epoch of the 2015 IAU assembly will be ideal for an assessment of observational, numerical, and theoretical knowledge about cosmic magnetic fields. The meeting is aimed at a comprehensive review of the role of cosmic magnetic fields. The close contact between astronomers and physicists from across the community is fundamental for planning the next steps toward the SKA, the radio telescope that will dramatically improve our knowledge of the incidence, strength and morphology of magnetic fields in astrophysics.

The full SOC is proposed to be:
Dr Melanie Johnston-Hollitt (New Zealand) - co-chair
Dr George Heald (Netherlands) - co-chair
Dr Federica Govoni (Italy)
Prof. Bryan Gaensler (Australia)
Prof. Rainer Beck (Germany)
Prof. Larry Rudnick (United States)
Prof. Russ Taylor (South Africa)
Dr Anna Scaife (UK)
Dr Takuya Akahori (Japan/Australia)
Prof. Luigina Feretti (Italy)
Dr Katia Ferriere (France)

Proceedings Editors:
Dr George Heald (Netherlands) – Lead Editor
Prof. Russ Taylor (South Africa)
Dr Federica Govoni (Italy)
Dr Melanie Johnston-Hollitt (New Zealand)

IAU General Assembly
Honolulu, 3-14 August 2015

IAU General Assembly 2015

Information Bulletin n° 112

Latest Information Bulletin

IAU e-Newsletter
Volume 2014 n° 1

Latest e-Newsletter

Subscribe to the e-Newsletter


Discuss the IAU Commission reform (Members only)


Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal


IAU Office of Astronomy for Development

Office for Astronomy Development

IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach

Office for Astronomy Outreach

Astronomy Outreach Newsletters and Events

Outreach Newsletters

Peer-reviewed Astronomy Education Activities

Astro EDU

Astronomy for Development 
Strategic Plan 2010–2020

Strategic Plan