Almost 1,000 Mysterious Magnetic Filaments Discovered Around the Milky Way’s Core

Almost 1,000 Mysterious Magnetic Filaments Discovered Around the Milky Way’s Core

Researchers discovered unexplained lengthy magnetic filaments near the center of our galaxy thirty-five years ago. Scientists have baffled by their origins for decades, but new evidence may revolutionize everything we think we know about them. The latest radio measurements, as reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, demonstrate that astronomers have only been looking at a small fraction of these filaments: There are at least ten times as many as previously thought, bringing the total number of these 150-light-year-long cosmic threads to around 1,000.

Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University, the paper’s lead author and original discoverer of the filaments, stated in a statement, “We have researched individual filaments for a long time with a myopic vision.” “At long last, we get to see the vast picture – a panoramic vision brimming with filaments. It is tough to draw any solid conclusions about what these filaments are or where they come from just by looking at a handful of them. This marks a turning point in our knowledge of these structures.”

The team was able to gain a greater understanding because of the discovery of so many filaments. They do not appear too tied to supernova remnants, for example. It is more likely that they are a result of Sagittarius A*, the galaxy’s supermassive black hole. They could link to the radio bubbles identified at the Milky Way’s center a few years ago. Magnetic fields along the filaments enhanced, according to the researchers. This property has shared all filaments, and astronomers can only prove it now that they have a larger number of samples.

“If you came from another planet and saw one exceptionally tall person on Earth, for example, you could believe that everyone is tall.” However, if you look at data across a group of people, you can figure out what their average height is. “We’re doing exactly that,” Yusef-Zadeh added. “We can determine the strength of magnetic fields, as well as their lengths, orientations, and emission spectra.” However, there is still a lot to learn. Why do they congregate? Why they evenly spaced, as if they were harp strings?

Yusef-Zadeh observed, “They virtually approximate the uniform spacing in solar cycles.” “We still have no idea why they come in clusters or how they separate, and we have no idea how these regular spacings occur.” Every time we answer one question, a slew of new ones appear.” The power of MeerKAT at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and over 200 hours of observations were required to achieve the precision required for this image.

The final image of the Milky Way’s center, which published in a separate piece in The Astrophysical Journal, is a monument to the dedication and time it took to research this critical region of our galaxy. “I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this image in the process of working on it, and I never get weary of it,” said Ian Heywood of Oxford University, the primary author of the second publication.

“Whenever I present this image to individuals who are new to radio astronomy or who are inexperienced with it in any way, I try to underline how radio imaging hasn’t always been this way, and how far MeerKAT has come in terms of its capabilities.” Working with colleagues from SARAO over the years to build this amazing telescope has been a great honor.”