Our Galaxy’s Magnetic Core


An image of the magnetic field at the centre of the Milky Way taken using a specialised HAWC+ camera by NASA’s 747 mounted observatory SOFIA. To wit:

HAWC+ maps magnetism by observing polarized infrared light emitted by elongated dust grains rotating in alignment with the local magnetic field.

Now at our Milky Way’s center is a supermassive black hole with a hobby of absorbing gas from stars it has recently destroyed. Our galaxy’s black hole, though, is relatively quiet compared to the absorption rate of the central black holes in active galaxies.

The featured image gives a clue as to why — a surrounding magnetic field may either channel gas into the black hole — which lights up its exterior, or forces gas into an accretion-disk holding pattern, causing it to be less active — at least temporarily.

Inspection of the featured image — appearing perhaps like a surreal mashup of impasto art and gravitational astrophysics — brings out this telling clue by detailing the magnetic field in and around a dusty ring surrounding Sagittarius A*, the black hole in our Milky Way’s center.

(Image: NASASOFIAHubble)


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2 thoughts on “Our Galaxy’s Magnetic Core

  1. Slightly Bemused

    Absolutely stunning!

    I would like to second scottser’s approval of these features. Especially ones like this that are not possible with a telescope in the back garden. And, after reading all the links, I too feel smugly more intelligent :)

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