Milky Way’s Magnetic Field Imaged

Milky Way’s Magnetic Field Imaged

Milky Way s magnetic fingerprint.jpg

ESA’s Planck spacecraft has produced an image of the Milky Way’s magnetic field. The image was created by measuring polarized light from interstellar dust. Light can be polarized, which means the wave vibrates in a specific direction. This occurs when the light interacts with something. This could be a reflection off a mirror or by a magnetic field. The direction of the vibrations can be used to measure magnetic fields across the Milky Way. This is because spinning dust particles align to the magnetic field and any light hitting the dust particles will become polarized to reflect the non-randomness of the spinning dust particles. It is hoped that this data will enable a more detailed study of the early Universe. The recent BICEP2 that claimed to have found gravitational waves and hence confirm the theory of inflation relies on polarised emissions from our Milky Way to be negligible. The Planck detail will be able to look at a much larger portion of the sky which will hopefully reduce the chance of an error due to contamination.

To learn more:

Image credit:

ESA and the Planck Collaboration

Find more Astronomy News

 Privacy policy and cookies | Disclaimer | Contact Us | Credits | Resources | Site Map © 2012-2014