For The First Time, Astronomers Have Observed A Giant Magnetic 'Bridge' Between Galaxies

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For the first time ever, astronomers have found evidence of a magnetic field that's linked with the vast intergalactic 'bridge' that joins our two nearest galactic neighbors. Called the Magellanic Bridge, this bridge is an enormous stream of neutral gas that spreads some 75,000 light-years between our two neighboring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC).

Even though astronomers had foretold it was there, this is the first evidence of its magnetic field, and it can help us understand how these vast bridges come to be.


Image Credit: ESA/Planck


Lead researcher of this recent study, Jane Kaczmarek from the University of Sydney, said: "There were hints that this magnetic field might exist, but no one had observed it until now,"

Our adjoining galactic neighbors, the LMC and SMC (photographed below) are some 160,000 and 200,000 light-years from Earth respectively, and are observable in the southern night sky.

Image Credit: ESO/J. Colosimo

Astronomers have long known about the Magellanic Bridge that is present among these neighbors, a path with a few known stars inside it. But till now, we knew very little was known about the magnetic field connected to the bridge.

The team of astronomers has now exposed that this recently detected magnetic field is one millionth the strength of Earth's own defensive magnetic shield - and it can deliver some insight into how it formed.

If a bridge between the stars sounds a little sci-fi to you, keep in mind that most of space is made up of different magnetic fields.

Even cooler is the fact that this is just one study that's part of a bigger project to map the entire Universe's magnetism.

The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and you can read the full paper for free over at arXiv.org.
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Astronomy

astrophysics

cosmology

ESO

galaxies

Magnetic Bridge

NASA

space

universe

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