Astrophysicists have released an unprecedented map of the entire sky that charts the magnetic field shaping our Milky Way Galaxy. The map reveals magnetic http://www.examcrowd.comfield lines running parallel to the plane of the Galaxy, as well as great loops and whorls associated with nearby clouds of gas and dust.
The team — which includes researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) at the University of Toronto — created the map using data from the Planck Space Telescope.
Since 2009, the Planck telescope has charted the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the light from the Universe a mere 380,000 years after the Big Bang.
But Planck also observes light from much closer than the farthest reaches of time and space. With its High Frequency Instrument, Planck detects the light from microscopic dust particles within our galaxy and helps identify the non-random direction in which the light waves vibrate — known as polarization. It is this polarized light that indicates the orientation of the field lines.
“Just as the Earth has a magnetic field, our galaxy has a large-scale magnetic field — albeit 100,000 times weaker than the magnetic field at the Earth’s surface,” says UBC Astrophysicist Douglas Cisco 642-436 Scott. “And just as the Earth’s magnetic field generates phenomena such as the aurorae, our galaxy’s magnetic field is important for many phenomena within it.”
“And now,” says Scott, “Planck has given us the most detailed picture of it yet.”
The “fingerprint” and other results are described in four forthcoming papers in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
CITA’s Prof. Peter Martin uses Planck data to study the dust found throughout our galaxy. “Dust is often overlooked but it contains the stuff from which terrestrial planets and life form,” he says. “So by probing the dust, Planck helps us understand the complex history of the galaxy as well as the life within it.”