Friday, January 13, 2023

New map reveals details of the Milky Way's magnetic structure

An international team of scientists led by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias has produced a new map of the Milky Way's magnetic field . The map was produced from microwaves of the electromagnetic spectrum with data from the QUIJOTE Collaboration (QUI JOint TEnerife), which uses telescopes in the Canary Islands to observe the sky.

Mapping work began in 2012 and, almost a decade later, the Collaboration presented six scientific papers on the results obtained. The team also achieved the most accurate description yet produced of the polarization (the property of transverse waves, like those of light, which specifies the direction of their oscillation, indicating the presence of a magnetic field) of the Milky Way's emissions .

Researcher Elena de la Hoz explains that one of the most interesting results found by the team is that the synchrotron emissions (the radiation generated by charged particles that move along the lines of a magnetic field at almost the speed of light), coming from the Milky Way, are much more variable than previously thought. “The results we get are a benchmark to help future experiments make reliable detections of the cosmic microwave background signal, ” she added.

In addition to mapping the magnetic structure of our galaxy, the QUIJOTE data have proved important for other purposes: they are a unique tool for studying anomalous microwave emission (AME), which appears to be formed by the rotation of small dust particles in the medium. interstellar. Their orientation may depend on the presence of the galactic magnetic field.

With the new results, the team gained information about the structure of our galaxy's magnetic field, in addition to better understanding the energetic processes that occurred during the birth of the universe . To measure signals from that epoch, scientists first need to eliminate the "veil" of emissions associated with the Milky Way — exactly what the QUIJOTE maps did.

 They also allowed studies of excessive microwave emissions from the center of the galaxy, which may be related to decay processes of dark matter particles, and also provided the study of more than 700 sources of emission in radio and microwave waves. waves. They have both galactic and extragalactic origins , and could help scientists decipher signals coming from outside the Milky Way.

Articles with the results of the study were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society .

 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6); Via: Royal Astronomical Society

Map of polarized microwave emissions; the wavy pattern represents the direction of the Milky Way's magnetic field (Image: Reproduction/QUIJOTE Collaboration)

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