Young-star discovery hints magnetism common to all cosmic jets

Nov 25, 2010
Radio jets emitted by young star shown in yellow on background of infrared image from Spitzer Space Telescope. Yellow bars show orientation of magnetic field in jet as measured by VLA. Green bars show magnetic-field orientation in the dusty envelope surrounding the young star. Two other young stars are seen at sides of the jet. CREDIT: Carrasco-Gonzalez et al., Curran et al., Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF, NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers have found the first evidence of a magnetic field in a jet of material ejected from a young star, a discovery that points toward future breakthroughs in understanding the nature of all types of cosmic jets and of the role of magnetic fields in star formation.

Throughout the Universe, jets of are ejected by three phenomena: the supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies, smaller black holes or consuming material from companion stars, and young stars still in the process of gathering mass from their surroundings. Previously, magnetic fields were detected in the jets of the first two, but until now, magnetic fields had not been confirmed in the jets from young stars.

"Our discovery gives a strong hint that all three types of jets originate through a common process," said Carlos Carrasco-Gonzalez, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalucia Spanish National Research Council (IAA-CSIC) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

The astronomers used the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope to study a young star some 5,500 light-years from Earth, called IRAS 18162-2048. This star, possibly as massive as 10 Suns, is ejecting a jet 17 light-years long.

Observing this object for 12 hours with the VLA, the scientists found that radio waves from the jet have a characteristic indicating they arose when fast-moving electrons interacted with magnetic fields. This characteristic, called polarization, gives a preferential alignment to the electric and magnetic fields of the radio waves.

"We see for the first time that a jet from a young star shares this common characteristic with the other types of cosmic jets," said Luis Rodriguez, of UNAM.

The discovery, the astronomers say, may allow them to gain an improved understanding of the physics of the jets as well as of the role magnetic fields play in forming new stars. The jets from , unlike the other types, emit radiation that provides information on the temperatures, speeds, and densities within the jets. This information, combined with the data on magnetic fields, can improve scientists' understanding of how such jets work.

"In the future, combining several types of observations could give us an overall picture of how magnetic fields affect the young star and all its surroundings. This would be a big advance in understanding the process of ," Rodriguez said.

Explore further: Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Related Stories

VLBA Movies Reveal New Details of Cosmic Jets

Jan 08, 2008

Astronomers have known for decades that supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies can shoot out jets of subatomic particles at tremendous speeds. However, details about the physics of such jets, including how they ...

X-Ray Jets

Sep 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The supermassive black holes that lie at the centers of galaxies can spawn tremendous bipolar jets of atomic particles.

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Apr 18, 2014

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1.4 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2010
The magnetic field probably comes from the neutron star at star's core.
www.youtube.com/w...yLYSiPO0

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Vendicar_Decarian
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 26, 2010
"The magnetic field probably comes from the neutron star at star's core." - TeaBagger

IRAS 18162-2048 is a high mass protostar Mr. TeaBagger

The only Neutron star present is the one your vapid imagination has produced.

Ethelred
3 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2010
Oh, that video. Saw it yesterday. Has his usual chart that shows that large atoms need a more than one proton to one neutron ratio. Somehow he thinks this is evidence that neutrons repel each other rather than large atoms need more neutron to remain stable.

Oliver ranked me with a one for pointing that out. He doesn't like my questions. He CAN'T answer them. Not won't. Can't.

Sometime he says iron core. In fact that video has him saying the Sun has an iron core. I haven't got a straight answer on whether the Sun has an Iron or Neutron core from him either. He says either but he never uses both in one post.

Oliver used to be a competent scientist. I don't know that really happened to him to knock out his underpinnings. He has serious issues but they shouldn't have made him the Crank he is.

However I don't think he is a teabagger. A GW denialist yes but not a teabagger. Could be wrong on that.

Ethelred
denijane
3 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2010
"Throughout the Universe, jets of subatomic particles are ejected by three phenomena: the supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies, smaller black holes or neutron stars consuming material from companion stars, and young stars still in the process of gathering mass from their surroundings. "

This isn't true. Jets were observed also from brown dwarfs and single neutron stars. So this statement is profoundly incorrect. It implies that the only way of formation of a jet is trough accretion disk, which is merely one model of jet formation.

As for the observation of magnetic fields, that's also very disputable statement. Magnetic fields are required for certain energy extraction mechanisms and are assumed in most models, but they were observed only in some cases.

Also, there is big difference between mild magnetization and strong such (required in jet models). Please add some estimation of the magnetization.

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.