Enrique Lopez Rodriguez

NASA Ames Research Center · Mail Stop N232-12 P.O. Box 1 · Moffett Field, CA 94035 · enloro [at] gmail.com

I am an extragalactic astronomer with a particular focus on the evolution of active galaxies. My main research investigates the characterization of the feeding material onto super massive black holes at the center of active nuclei. My work is shaped by a magnetohydrodynamical framework.

I am currently a scientist at NASA's Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), leading the efforts for far-infrared polarimetric observations using the far-infared polarimeter, HAWC+.

NEW: Accepted SOFIA Legacy Program (PI: Lopez-Rodriguez & Mao) to construct a comprehensive empirical picture of the magnetic field strength and structure in the multiphase ISM of galaxies. SOFIA Legacy Program


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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 participated in the commisioning 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, the polarimetric mode, 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 32 (+4 submitted) peer-reviewed papers with 13 (+1 submitted) as first author as of Feb. 2020.

Full bibliography can be found at My ADS

First-Author Papers

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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 poalrimetric 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 poalrimetry 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

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:

Un chicharrero en la estratosfera

Article about my scientific career as a Canarian astronomer.

La Opinion

Fuga de cerebros

Interview regarding the significant migration of scientists from Spain.