Scientists reveal Milky Way's magnetic attraction

Jan 06, 2010
New research shows the Milky Way's magnetic field is far stronger than previously realised. Photo courtesy Stockvault

(PhysOrg.com) -- An international research project involving the University of Adelaide has revealed that the magnetic field in the centre of the Milky Way is at least 10 times stronger than the rest of the Galaxy.

The evidence is significant because it gives astronomers a lower limit on the , an important factor in calculating a whole range of astronomical data.

Researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics, the University of Adelaide, Monash University and the United States have published their findings in Nature this week.

Dr Roland Crocker, the lead author, and Dr David Jones both worked on the project while based at Monash University and the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemistry and Physics. The two physicists are now based at the Max-Planck-Institute for in Heidelberg, Germany.

“This research will challenge current thinking among astronomers,” Dr Crocker says. “For the last 30 years there has been considerable uncertainty of the exact value of the magnetic field in the centre of the Milky Way. The strength of this field enters into most calculations in astronomy, since almost all of space is magnetised,” he says.

Dr Jones says the findings will affect diverse fields, from star formation theory to cosmology.

“If our Galactic centre’s magnetic field is stronger than we thought, this raises additional questions of how it got so strong when fields in the are, in contrast, quite weak. We know now that more than 10% of the Galaxy’s magnetic energy is concentrated in less than 0.1% of its volume, right at its centre,” he says.

Dr Jones completed his PhD at Adelaide, studying the Galactic Centre magnetic field under the supervision of Dr Raymond Protheroe, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide, and Dr Crocker, a former postdoctoral researcher at the University.

“The just glows in and in gamma-rays produced by collisions of , and is brightest near its centre. Knowing the magnetic field there helps us understand the source of the radio and gamma-rays better,” says Dr Protheroe.

Explore further: Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?

More information: A 50 uG baseline for the Galactic Centre magnetic field; Roland M. Crocker, David Jones, Fulvio Melia, Jurgen Ott, Raymond J. Protheroe, Nature.

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User comments : 4

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Auxon
2 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2010
Would this effect the proposition that most matter is dark matter? If the magnetic field can be at least 10x stronger, wouldn't that mean we are overestimating the mass, since we would be attributing magnetic field effects to gravity?
in7x
1 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2010
duuuuur. What a shocking surprise for those who have steadfastly ignored electromagnetic phenomenon in space.

Not only stellar formation, but galactic formation.

"This research will challenge current thinking among astronomers"

Time to end the myth of the gravitationally driven cosmos.
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Jan 10, 2010
Quote: “If our Galactic centre’s magnetic field is stronger than we thought, this raises additional questions of how it got so strong when fields in the early universe are, in contrast, quite weak. We know now that more than 10% of the Galaxy’s magnetic energy is concentrated in less than 0.1% of its volume, right at its centre,” he says.

Reply: The problem is a basic misunderstanding of nuclear material. Hydrogen fusion is not the primary source of nuclear energy.

Nuclear material is dissociating - not fusing - in the Sun and the cosmos :

a.) Neutron repulsion causes dense neutron stars to emit neutrons, => n .

b.) The free neutron decays to a hydrogen atom in about 10 minutes, n => H, and the volume increases by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000 !

c.) The Sun and others stars release hydrogen to space (solar wind); Each year the Sun discards 50,000 billion metric ton of Hydrogen.

d.) Hydrogen (a neutron decay product) thus fills the cosmos.

Oliver K. Manuel
brant
not rated yet Jan 11, 2010
"
Reply: The problem is a basic misunderstanding of nuclear material. Hydrogen fusion is not the primary source of nuclear energy.

Nuclear material is dissociating - not fusing - in the Sun and the cosmos :

a.) Neutron repulsion causes dense neutron stars to emit neutrons, => n .

b.) The free neutron decays to a hydrogen atom in about 10 minutes, n => H, and the volume increases by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000 !

c.) The Sun and others stars release hydrogen to space (solar wind); Each year the Sun discards 50,000 billion metric ton of Hydrogen.

d.) Hydrogen (a neutron decay product) thus fills the cosmos.

Oliver K. Manuel
"

So where does the magnetic field come from?

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