May 21, 2024

Black Hole: A powerful, organized magnetic field discovered at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

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The ordered magnetic field at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

Magnetic fields spiral around the central shadow of the black hole

Magnetic fields spiral around the central shadow of the black hole

Source: EHT Collaboration

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The Event Horizon Telescope, which consists of eight telescopes distributed around the world, has discovered a strong, organized magnetic field around the black hole at the heart of our home galaxy. This has great similarities to the black hole found in the galaxy M87.

FifthA powerful, organized magnetic field is emitted from the large black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. This is demonstrated by observations made by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescope systems distributed around the world. The structure of this magnetic field is surprisingly similar to the structure of the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87, scientists from the EHT team report in two articles in the journal “Astrophysical Journal Letters“.

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“By observing the polarized radiation from hot, glowing gas around black holes, we can determine the structure and strength of the magnetic field there,” explains Angelo Ricart of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the USA, one of the leading scientists in this field. EHT Collaboration. Light and radio radiation are oscillations of electric and magnetic fields. In the case of polarized radiation, these fields do not oscillate randomly, but in a specific and fixed direction

Comparing the sizes of two black holes: M87*, at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, and Sagittarius, at the center of the Milky Way

Comparing the sizes of two black holes: M87* in the Messier 87 galaxy, and Sagittarius in the Milky Way

Source: EHT Collaboration

The global map shows the radio observatories that make up the Event Horizon Telescope network

The global map shows the radio observatories that make up the EHT network

Source: ESO/M. Grain knife

The radio radiation that astronomers measure is caused by the motion of electrically charged particles. Magnetic fields influence this movement – and thus a structured magnetic field results in polarized radiation. “So we can see from the radiation that there is a strong magnetic field near the black hole at the center of the Milky Way,” says EHT's Sarah Isson, also of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “We also see that this magnetic field is similar to that in the more massive black hole in M87.”

That's from astronomers Sagittarius A* The so-called black hole located at the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy is located 27 thousand light-years from Earth and contains about four million times the mass of the Sun. The black hole at the center of the galaxy M87, 55 million light-years away, contains 6.6 billion solar masses. “Strong and ordered magnetic fields – regardless of mass – appear to be characteristic of black holes,” Mariafelicia De Laurentiis of the University of Naples in Italy concluded.

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Sagittarius A* is under observation

It is assumed that magnetic fields regulate the flow of gas from the surroundings into the black hole. What's more, not all of the gas flowing toward the black hole actually falls into it. A portion of the gas is deflected by the magnetic field, collects in a narrow stream of matter, and shoots thousands of light-years into space. Astronomers see such “jets” in many supermassive black holes in distant galaxies, including M87.

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However, researchers have not yet been able to detect any streams of matter in the central black hole in our Milky Way Galaxy. But the similarity between the magnetic fields in M87 and Sagittarius A* suggests such jets exist here too, says De Laurentiis: “We just have to find them.” And it could happen soon, as EHT Sagittarius A* is scheduled to arrive in April. Note again.

Observations are improving using the global network of telescopes: new telescopes are being added, and improvements in technology make it possible to cover a wider range of frequencies and increase the sensitivity of receivers. “By observing polarized radiation, we can learn a tremendous amount about the physics of black holes, about the properties of gas in the environment, and about the way it flows into the black hole,” says Rickart.