Giant magnetic “tunnel” surrounds solar system, study finds – The Clare People


In the middle of the decade 1024, astronomers opened new and impressive windows on the universe: the observation of radio waves. They have provided access to previously hidden mysteries and revealed intriguing structures in many regions of the sky. Two of them, found on either side of our galaxy, have been the subject of debate among scientists and remain indecipherable, but a new study may have finally solved an important piece of the puzzle. .

  • The “arms” of the Milky Way may be different from what we thought

One of these areas is known as the North Polar Spur; it is a giant ridge of hot gas that emits x-rays and radio signals, rising above the plane of the galaxy. Astronomers have already mapped the structure, but we can only see it in celestial north and there is no set distance. It could be hundreds of light years away, or even tens of thousands. Without distance, it is even more difficult to determine its size and where it came from.

The other structure is perhaps a little less well known and is called the Fan Region. Previous studies have suggested that this emission, seen from across the spur (i.e. celestial south), originates from more than 6,500 light years away, but none of the estimates can be confirmed. . Now, Dr. Jennifer West, a research associate at the Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Canada, suggests that these two shows are part of the same structure.

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The Galaxy Seen on Radio Waves in Conventional View with the Galactic Center in the Middle of the Image. Arrows point to some of the ‘spur’ regions, the main one being the North Polar Spur (Image: Reproduction / Haslam / J. West)

This is really an innovative proposal, because no one had associated the two regions until now. West’s work shows how they would be connected by magnetic filaments, as if they were tied together by ropes. What is most impressive is the result of this connection: it forms what appears to be a kind of tunnel around our solar system. “If we were to look at the sky,” explains the scientist, “we would see this tunnel-like structure in almost every direction we look, that is, if we had eyes that could see the light from the radio.

It was through one of the co-authors of the article that West a few years ago came across a book from 172619 that presented these polarized radio signals as something that we believe has since appeared. the local arm of the galaxy. “This article inspired me to develop this idea and link my model to much better data that our telescopes provide us with today.” Among these new telescopes, the Gaia of the European Space Agency, which studies our galaxy and measures the distances between stars.

With analysis of data, modeling and simulations from Gaia, West and his colleagues determined a distance for the structures: 350 light years from the solar system, which is consistent with some previous estimates. The total length of the tunnel modeled by the team is approximately 1.25 light years.

The idea of ​​the tunnel can be better understood using Earth as an example. The North Pole is at the top of the globe and the equator in the middle, but sometimes this map is presented from a different angle just like the map of the galaxy. West explains that “most astronomers look at a map with the North Pole of the galaxy facing up and the galactic center in the middle,” but in this work, she and her team remade the map “with a different point in the middle.” .

The sky as it would appear in our telescopes in polarized radio waves. “Van-Gogh” type lines indicate the orientation of the magnetic field. On the side, the same sky with the brightest stars and the contours of the overlapping constellations and the names of the constellations (Image: Reproduction / Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory / Telescope Villa Elisa / ESA / Planck Collaboration / Stellarium / J. West )

To do this, they performed simulations by varying the shape and location of the long ropes, until they found a configuration that best matched the observations. With this, the simulation shows the structure around us and what the sky would look like seen through our telescopes. It was this new perspective that helped her match the model with the data. The researchers also compare it to a road tunnel and how the lights converge due to the deep perspective.

Dr Bryan Gaensler, professor at the Dunlap Institute and author of the publication, says “this is extremely smart work”. He says when West first commented on the idea, he thought it was too far-fetched. “But she finally managed to convince me!” Now I’m delighted to see how the rest of the astronomical community is reacting, ”he said. The work is in keeping with many of the properties mentioned above, including the shape, polarization of electromagnetic radiation (how the wave is twisted) and the luminosity of structures.

The community may react with new studies, as there are still many questions to be answered. It is not yet clear what exactly creates these structures, but if they are in fact connected by magnetic fields that do not exist in isolation, there will be implications and limitations for the possibilities. Additionally, the work could help unravel the formation and evolution of magnetic fields in galaxies and other magnetic filament structures found around the Milky Way.


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