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B. M. Gaensler (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), R. Beck (MPIfR), L. Feretti (IRA/INAF)
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be one of a suite of new, large telescopes for the 21\rm st century probing fundamental physics, the origin and evolution of the Universe, the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the formation and distribution of planets.
The evolution, structure and origin of magnetic fields are still open problems in physics and astrophysics. When and how were the first fields generated? Are present-day magnetic fields the result of standard dynamo action, or do they represent rapid or recent field amplification through other processes? What role do magnetic fields play in turbulence, cosmic ray acceleration and galaxy formation? The SKA can deliver stunning new data-sets that will address these currently unanswered issues. The foundation for these experiments will be an all-sky survey of rotation measures, in which Faraday rotation towards >107 background sources will provide a dense grid for probing magnetism in the Milky Way, nearby galaxies, and in distant galaxies, clusters and protogalaxies. Using these data, we can map out the evolution of magnetized structures from redshifts z > 3 to the present, can distinguish between different origins for seed magnetic fields in galaxies, and can develop a detailed model of the magnetic field geometry of the intergalactic medium and of the overall Universe. With the unprecedented capabilities of the SKA, the window to the Magnetic Universe can finally be opened.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.