A British TV viewer discovers a galaxy that turns out to be very special nine years later

A British TV viewer discovers a galaxy that turns out to be very special nine years later

Scientists have observed the magnetic field of a galaxy so distant that it took more than eleven billion years for light to reach us. New record! This is galaxy 9io9. This galaxy It was discovered in 2014 When British television viewers spent three evenings watching millions of images of galaxies.

Galaxies – just like the Earth (and other planets) and the Sun (and other stars) – have magnetic fields. However, these magnetic fields are often very weak. For example, our galaxy’s magnetic field is hundreds of thousands of times weaker than Earth’s magnetic field. However, the magnetic field lines of galaxies are many times larger. “It extends over tens of thousands of light-years,” says Professor James Geach of the University of Hertfordshire.

Astronomers hope to solve the brain teaser
In 2017, astronomers discovered a galaxy that already had a strong magnetic field five billion years ago. This record has now been broken. This is good news, because there are scientists who believe that galaxies are born with a weak magnetic field and that this field grows and becomes stronger over time. But is this really true? No one knows exactly, because so far only the magnetic fields of nearby galaxies have been mapped. Hopefully the new discovery will solve this mental puzzle. “We actually know very little about how these fields form, even though they are very fundamental to the evolution of galaxies,” says researcher Enrique López Rodriguez of Stanford University. “This discovery provides new clues about how magnetic fields form on a galactic scale,” Geach adds.

How was the magnetic field discovered?
Galaxies contain a lot of dust. If a magnetic field is present, these dust grains align with that field and the light they emit becomes polarized. Light waves vibrate in a preferred direction rather than random directions. Scientists used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to capture polarized light waves and thus map the magnetic field. Geach believes that “no other telescope could have achieved this goal.”

This image shows the direction of the magnetic field in galaxy 9io9, when the universe was only 2.5 billion years old. To put it in perspective, the sun wasn’t there at that time! The polarized optical signal from the dust is very weak: only 1% of the total brightness of the galaxy.

Thanks to star formation?
Researchers suspect that magnetic fields evolved rapidly due to intense star formation in the early universe. These fields may have influenced subsequent generations of stars. in the paper – which was published in the journal Nature – The scientists also wrote that the number of stars being born in the galaxy is 9io9 thousand times greater than the number of stars being born in our Milky Way Galaxy. “This discovery provides new insight into how galaxies work,” says European Southern Observatory astronomer Rob Evenson. “Magnetic fields are closely linked to the matter from which new stars are formed.”

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