Enrique Lopez Rodriguez

Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) · Stanford University · elopezrodriguez [at] stanford.edu

I am an extragalactic astronomer with a particular focus on the study of the role of magnetic fields in galaxy evolution. My research characterizes the feeding material onto super massive black holes at the center of active galaxies and the structure of the magnetic field in their host galaxies.

I am currently a Research Scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics & Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University. I am leading the efforts for the characterization of magnetic fields in galaxies using infrared polarimetric observations.

SALSA: SOFIA Legacy Program (PI: Lopez-Rodriguez & Mao) to construct a comprehensive empirical picture of the magnetic field strength and structure in the multiphase interstellar medium of galaxies. Survey of extragalactic magnetism using SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program)


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Extragalactic Magnetism

I study the magnetic fields in the multi-phase ISM of galaxies with the ultimate goal of quantifying the role of magnetic fields in galaxy evolution. This work is performed using radio and infrared polarimetric observations and velocity tracers with the largest and most sensitive observatories.

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Active Galactic Nuclei

My research is focused on the study of the dusty and clumpy obscuring structure surrounding the black hole and accretion disk in active galactic nuclei. I study the dusty torus using a hydrodynamical framework.

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Infrared Polarimetric instruments

I supported the commisioning and early-science products of:

- HAWC+: far-infrared polarimeter onboard SOFIA.

- MMT-Pol: near-infraed polarimeter, in conjuntion with the adaptive optics system on the 6.5-m MMT.

- CanariCam: mid-infrared polarimeter on the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS.

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Next Generation 30-m telescopes

I am a member of the TMT ISDT: Supermassive Black Hole, and Time Domain. My current participation is focused on enhancing the potential areas that may benefit from the availability of polarimetric capabilities with the TMT in the Detailed Science Case 2015.

I am the PI of the Key Science Project "Towards a Dynamical AGN Tori" as part of the TMT/GMT collaboration.

I am also a member of MICHI, an MIR instrument for possible construction of the TMT.


I have published a total of 67 peer-reviewed papers with 21 as first author as of June 2023.

Full bibliography can be found at My ADS

First-Author Papers

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On the origin of radio-loudness in active galactic nuclei using far-infrared polarimetric observations

The size and strength of the B-fields surrounding active galactic nuclei (AGN) are intrinsically related to the strength of the jet power -- the stronger the jet power is, the larger and stronger the toroidal B-field is.

2023b, (Accepted for publication)
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Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program): The Magnetic Fields in the Multiphase Interstellar Medium of the Antennae Galaxies

The Antennae galaxies have a ~8.9 kpc scale well-ordered B-fields connecting both galaxies. The B-fields in the dense and cold interstelar medium (ISM) are different that those in the diffuse and warm ISM.

2023a, ApJ, 942, 13
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Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program). IV. Program Overview and First Results on the Polarization Fraction

First results of the Survey of extragalactic magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA) Legacy Program.

2022b, ApJ, 936, 92
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Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (SALSA Legacy Program). III. First Data Release and On-the-fly Polarization Mapping Characterization

Implementation and characterization of the on-the-fly-mapping (OTFMAP) polarimetric mode of HAWC+/SOFIA to observe magnetic fields in galaxies. The OTFMAP polarimetric mode offers a reduction of observing overheads by a factor 2.34 and an improvement in sensitivity by a factor 1.80 when compared to the same on-source time polarimetric observations using the chopping and nodding mode.

2022a, ApJ, 914, 24
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Extragalactic Magnetism with SOFIA (Legacy Program) - II: A Magnetically Driven Flow in the Starburst Ring of NGC 1097

Characterization of the magnetic fields in the starburst ring of NGC 1097. The gas streams outside and within the starburst ring follow the magnetic field, which feeds the black hole with matter from the host galaxy.

2021b, ApJ, 923, 150
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The magnetic field of the warped molecular disk of Centaurus A

Centaurus A has a warped magnetic field tightly following the fast rotating and distorted molecular disk. The magnetic field is amplified via small-scale turbulent fields due to the galaxy merger.

2021b, Nature Astronomy, 5, 604
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The strength and structure of the magnetic field in the galactic outflow of M82

Collaborative work with solar physicists, which provides a novel approach to quantify the effects of outflows on galactic magnetic fields as well as their influence on the intergalactic medium and evolution of energetic particles. We concluded that the magnetic field in the starburst galaxy M82 is 'open', providing a direct channel between the starburst core and the intergalactic medium.

2021a, ApJ, 914, 24
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ALMA Polarimetry measures the magnetically aligned dust grains in the torus of NGC 1068

First detection of magnetically aligned dust grains in the dusty torus of an AGN, thanks to the ALMA polarimetric observations at a resolution of 0.07" (4.2 pc) in Band 7 (860 um).

2020b, ApJ, 893, 33
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SOFIA/HAWC+ Traces the Magnetic Fields in NGC 1068

First detection of a galactic spiral magnetic field by means of thermal emission from magnetically aligned dust grains in the grand design spiral galaxy NGC 1068.

2020a, ApJ, 888, 66
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The origin of the mid-infrared nuclear polarization of active galactic nuclei

1-13 μm polarimetric observations reveal a diverse set of physical processes responsible for the nuclear polarization of AGN. Radio-Quiet AGN show low polarized cores arising from extended dust, while Radio-Loud AGN show high polarized cores arising from a compact dusty and magnetically driven torus.

2018c, MNRAS, 478, 2350
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The Highly Polarized Dusty Emission Core of Cygnus A

Far-infrared polarimetry suggests that a coherent dusty and magnetic field structure dominates the 10-100 μm emission around the AGN of Cygnus A.

2018b, ApJ, 861, 23
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The Emission and Distribution of Dust of the Torus of NGC 1068

The morphology of the dust emission in our 2D image at 432 μm is spatially coincident with the cloud distribution, while the morphology of the emission in the 1-20 μm wavelength range shows an elongated morphology perpendicular to the cloud distribution. We find that our 2D CLUMPY torus image at 12 μm can produce comparable results to those observed using IR interferometry

2018a, ApJ, 859, 99
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Infrared polarimetry of Mrk 231: scattering off hot dust grains in the central core

A dusty structure of scales of few pc dominates the infrared polarization of Mrk 231. The most plausible polarization mechanism is dust scattering.

2017, MNRAS, 464, 1762
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Mid-infrared imaging- and spectro-polarimetric subarcsecond observations of NGC 1068

High-angular imaging- and spectro-polarimetric mid-infrared observations reveal the jet-ionization cones interaction in NGC 1068.

2016b, MNRAS, 458, 3851
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Dichroic polarization at mid-infrared wavelengths: a Bayesian approach

Offering a Bayesian approach to disentangle the several polarization mechanisms at mid-infrared wavelengths.

2016a, MNRAS, 455, 2656
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Near-infrared polarimetric adaptive optics observations of NGC 1068: a torus created by a hydromagnetic outflow wind

The dust located at the inner wall of the torus of NGC 1068 is confined by a strong, ~80 mG, magnetic field.

2015, MNRAS, 452, 1902
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Polarized Mid-infrared Synchrotron Emission in the Core of Cygnus A

Synchrotron emission dominates from a pc-scale jet close to the core.

NOTE: Check Lopez-Rodriguez et al. 2018b for the most recent results on this topic.

2014, ApJ, 793, 81
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Estimations of the magnetic field strength in the torus of IC 5063 using near-infrared polarimetry

The dusty torus is spatially confined at scales of 1 pc around the active nuclei due to a strong, ~100 mG, magnetic field.

2013, MNRAS, 431, 2723


My work in the news

Visions of galaxies

Personal and professional interview at the Stanford Report

Stanford Report

How magnetic fields help feed a supermassive black hole

Press release about 'SALSA II: A magnetically driven flow in the starburst ring of NGC 1097 paper by Lopez-Rodriguez (2021, ApJ, 923, 150)

NASA Press Release

Magnetic fields properties in a galactic merger remnant

Press release about 'The magnetic field of the warped molecular disk of Centaurus A' paper by Lopez-Rodriguez (2021, Nature Astronomy, 5, 604)

NASA Press Release APOD (2021 Apr. 21) Nature Astronomy Best Cover 2021

Magnetic ‘Highway’ Channels Material Out of Cigar Galaxy

Press release about 'The strength and structure of the magnetic field in the galactic outflow of M82' paper by Lopez-Rodriguez et al. (2021, ApJ, 914, 24)

NASA Press Release

The Magnetic Field of the Whirlpool Galaxy

Press release about 'The magnetic field in the multiphase ISM of M51' paper by Borlaff et al. (2021, ApJ, 921, 128)

NASA Press Release APOD (2021 Jan. 20)

How to Shape a Spiral Galaxy

Press release about 'SOFIA/HAWC+ traces the magnetic fields in NGC 1068' paper by Lopez-Rodriguez 2020a ApJ, 888, 66.

NASA Press Release APOD (2019 Dec. 16)

The central magnetic field of the cigar galaxy

Press release about 'SOFIA far-infrared imaging polarimetry of M82 and NGC 253: Exploring the supergalactic wind' paper by Jones, Dowell, Lopez-Rodriguez, et al. 2019 ApJ, 870, 9.

APOD (2019 March 11)

Magnetic fields may be the key to black hole activity

Press release about 'The highly polarized dusty emission core of cygnus A' paper by Lopez-Rodriguez 2018b ApJ, 861, 23.

NASA Press Release

The core of the Milky Way unveiled in clearest infrared image yet

Article about 'The magnetic field in the central parsec of the Galaxy' paper by Roche et al. 2018, MNRAS, 476, 235.

Astronomy Magazine

SOFIA finds cool dust around energetic active black holes

Press release about 'Investigating the dusty torus of Seyfert galaxies using SOFIA/FORCAST photometry' paper by Fuller et al. 2016 MNRAS, 462, 2618.

NASA Press Release

AAS 2018 Press release: Magnetic fields in galaxies

Press release about the first-light polarimetric observations of galaxies with HAWC+.

AAS 2018 Press Release

En español:

Vision cosmica

Entrevista profesional y personal en Vision Cosmica organizada por Andres Plazas Malagon.


Noches Astronomicas

Primer evento en Español sobre la ciencia que se hace en KIPAC/Stanford dirigido a estuduantes de instituto y sus familias.


Un chicharrero en la estratosfera

Artilo sobre mi carrera cientifica como astronomo Canario.

La Opinion

Fuga de cerebros

Entrevista sobre la emigracion de cientificos Españoles.