Universal, primordial magnetic fields discovered in deep space

Sep 21, 2010
Universal, primordial magnetic fields discovered in deep space
NASA artist's conception of an "active galactic nucleus"

Scientists from the California Institute of Technology and UCLA have discovered evidence of "universal ubiquitous magnetic fields" that have permeated deep space between galaxies since the time of the Big Bang.

Caltech physicist Shin'ichiro Ando and Alexander Kusenko, a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA, report the discovery in a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of ; the research is currently available online.

Ando and Kusenko studied images of the most powerful objects in the universe -- supermassive that emit high-energy radiation as they devour stars in distant — obtained by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray .

"We found the signs of primordial magnetic fields in deep space between galaxies," Ando said.

Physicists have hypothesized for many years that a universal should permeate deep space between galaxies, but there was no way to observe it or measure it until now.

The physicists produced a composite image of 170 giant black holes and discovered that the images were not as sharp as expected.

"Because space is filled with left over from the Big Bang, as well as emitted from galaxies, high-energy photons emitted by a distant source can interact with the background photons and convert into electron-positron pairs, which interact in their turn and convert back into a group of photons somewhat later," said Kusenko, who is also a senior scientist at the University of Tokyo's Institute for Physics and Mathematics of the Universe.

"While this process by itself does not blur the image significantly, even a small magnetic field along the way can deflect the electrons and positrons, making the image fuzzy," he said.

From such blurred images, the researchers found that the average magnetic field had a "femto-Gauss" strength, just one-quadrillionth of the Earth's magnetic field. The universal magnetic fields may have formed in the early universe shortly after the Big Bang, long before stars and galaxies formed, Ando and Kusenko said.

Explore further: As stars form, magnetic fields influence regions big and small

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User comments : 9

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3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 21, 2010
Whenever we see electric charges move about, there's a magnetic field. Sun's surface, Earth's poles, Jupiter's and Saturn's fields, the fields in galaxy clusters, anywhere we look, there's magnetism. Now, it would be inconceivable that the Big Bang (and the early times after it) didn't cause a massive magnetic field.

Now, of course, it would be incredibly diluted, but it should still exist. It will be very interesting to see what kinds of experiments scientists can create with this new knowledge.
5 / 5 (3) Sep 21, 2010
Link to the research: http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.1924
not rated yet Sep 21, 2010
Something to do with the non-zero vaccuum energy perhaps?
1 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2010
i made such a conjecture in a recent comment on the site and that was considered by the editor as mere verbal garbage! i pointed out that the primordial magnetic field must have originated as first charges got generated following Big Bang. The very process of generation follows created charged bodies with intrinsic rotational mode, a sort of recoil!
not rated yet Sep 22, 2010
Could this magnetic field have caused the primary disruptions in the early stages of the universe that resulted in non-uniformity? I mean, would magnetism cause primordial instabilities that would cause gas clouds to develop\collapse in different ways?
not rated yet Sep 22, 2010
"The physicists produced a composite image of 170 giant black holes and discovered that the images were not as sharp as expected."

I like this. Why not post the blurred composite image of the black holes, instead of the stock picture above? ;)
5 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2010
"Why not post the blurred composite image of the black holes..."

Check out the paper(link above), Fig 1 [pg 11].
1 / 5 (1) Sep 24, 2010
Would not the black holes themselves and the galaxies circling them produce a magnetic field, much like our own sun produces the solar magnetic field that could distort the images instead of this being a remnant of the big bang? Or is the consistency of the distortion enough to rule out that effect?
1 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2010
i made such a conjecture in a recent comment on the site and that was considered by the editor as mere verbal garbage!

I too have been stung by what appears to be some sort of moderator witch hunt. Starting to sound more and more like a bad moderator on board.

Interestingly, since energy produces the magnetism, does a mapping of said fields correlate with known areas of dark matter?

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