Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home Galaxy News-Part 2

Hey Space Placers!

In our second of three parts about our home galaxy, the Milky Way, we get magnetic! I am sure almost everyone knows something about magnetism. For instance, that the Earth has a North and South magnetic pole, that magnetic field lines play a big role in the lives of sunspots and as we learned recently, solar flares.

Magnetism plays a part in our galaxy's existence and has been mapped to great precision as described in a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) press release: "this project brings together over 30 researchers with 26 different projects and more than 41,000 measurements across the sky. The resulting database is equivalent to peppering the entire sky with sources separated by an angular distance of two full moons." This incredible volume of data results in a new, unique all-sky map that gives scientists the ability to measure the magnetic field structure of the Milky Way in unparalleled detail. The new, high-precision map not only shows the Galactic magnetic field's structure on large scales, it also reveals small-scale features that help scientists better understand turbulence in the Galactic gas."

While it was known that our galaxy, along with others, has magnetic fields, what is the source or mechanism causing them was, and is, a mystery.This new map will help astronomers study our galaxy's magnetic properties and perhaps come up with the answer to the mystery.

Read More About It:

Image of the sky map showing the Faraday effect caused by the magnetic fields of the Milky Way.

 In this map of the sky, a correction for the effect of the Galactic disk has been made in order to emphasize weaker magnetic field structures. The magnetic field directions above and below the disk seem to be diametrically opposed, as indicated by the positive (red) and negative (blue) values. An analogous change of direction takes place across the vertical center line, which runs through the center of the Milky Way.(Image Credit: Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics)

Part three tomorrow.....

Sky Guy in VA

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