An automated polarimeter and its use in the study of active galaxies
In this thesis I present the design and development of an automated polarimeter for use in mapping the percentage levels and position angles of linearly polarized light from extended astronomical objects. The polarimeter is controlled from a personal computer that is running a UNIX operating system and controls not only the instrument, but the CCD camera as well. The second chapter of the thesis consists of a description of how the polarimeter works, the principles behind the optics, the mechanics and the electronics. The third chapter describes the software that controls the functional units within the polarimeter to the required accuracy demanded of a scientific application. The fourth and fifth chapters of the thesis address some of the scientific issues that the polarimeter has been used to clarify. There is a brief presentation of the phenomena of starburst galaxies and the generation of galactic-scale winds, often called superwinds. Polarization results and their interpretation for three starburst galaxies are presented.