A team of scientists searching a distant galaxy using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) detected that galaxy’s magnetic field, making it the farthest galactic magnetic field detected to date.

It is not known how the early magnetic fields around galaxies formed, so the new discovery pushes that timeline back. Astronomers used ALMA to observe 9io9, a lensing galaxy with a redshift of z=2.6. The galaxy’s light took 11 billion years to reach ALMA detectors in northern Chile.

For ALMA, the galaxy appears as it did when it was 2.5 billion years old. Their ancient magnetic fields could help astronomers understand how magnetic fields evolved in other galaxies in the early universe. published Their findings about the galaxy’s magnetic fields nature.

James Geach, an astrophysicist at the University of Hertfordshire and lead author of the study, said in a European article: “Many people may not realize that our entire galaxy and other galaxies are full of magnetic fields, which extend for tens of thousands of light-years.” Southern Observatory launch. “This discovery gives us new clues about how magnetic fields form on a galactic scale.”

To find the magnetic field, the researchers looked at the dust in 9io9. When there is a magnetic field, the dust grains align themselves, and the light they emit is polarized. And in 2021, a different team of researchers used a similar approach to look at the case The magnetic field surrounding the supermassive black hole In the center of Messier 87.

The researchers’ ability to study 9io9 is enhanced because the galaxy is gravitationally lensed, meaning its light is amplified by a large structure between ALMA and the ancient galaxy. Using gravitational lensing to their advantage is also what astronomers have discovered Erendel, the oldest known starand some of the The oldest known galaxies.

There were also magnetic fields near the center of the Milky Way detailed in the recent pastIt provides astronomers with clues about how the material around the black hole at the core of our galaxy moves.

9io9’s magnetic field is fully formed, but it’s still about 1,000 times weaker than Earth’s, according to the ESO release. But the galaxy’s domain (as you might imagine) is much larger, spanning about 16,000 light-years across. Researchers believe that the amazing star formation in the early universe may have played a role in the rapid arrival of magnetic fields on a galactic scale.

More observations may clarify the nature of 9io9’s magnetic field – how it originated and when – and similar observations of ancient galaxies could improve scientists’ understanding of how widespread galactic magnetic fields were in the early universe.

More: Birds use quantum mechanics to see magnetic fields, new research suggests

(tags for translation)physical cosmology

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