Magnetic ‘Highway’ Channels Material Out of Cigar Galaxy


Jan. 14, 2021

Magnetic ‘Highway’ Channels Material Out of Cigar Galaxy

Magnetic fields in Messier 82, or the Cigar galaxy, are shown as lines over a white, red and yellow image of the galaxy.
Magnetic fields in Messier 82, or the Cigar galaxy, are shown as lines over a visible light and infrared composite image of the galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Stellar winds streaming from hot new stars form a galactic super wind that is blasting out plumes of hot gas (red) and a huge halo of smoky dust (yellow/orange) perpendicular to the narrow galaxy (white). Researchers used the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy magnetic field data and tools that have been used extensively to study the physics around the Sun to extrapolate the magnetic field’s strength 20,000 lights-years around the galaxy. They appear to extend indefinitely into intergalactic space, like the Sun’s solar wind, and may help explain how the gas and dust have traveled so far away from the galaxy.Credits: NASA, SOFIA, L. Proudfit; NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team; NASA, JPL-Caltech, C. Engelbracht

What’s fueling the massive ejection of gas and dust out of the Cigar galaxy, otherwise known as Messier 82?

We know that thousands of stars bursting into existence are driving a powerful super-wind that’s blowing matter into intergalactic space. New research shows that magnetic fields are also contributing to the expulsion of material from Messier 82, a well-known example of a starburst galaxy with a distinctive, elongated shape.

The findings from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, help explain how dust and gas can move from inside galaxies into intergalactic space, offering clues to how galaxies formed. This material is enriched with elements like carbon and oxygen that support life and are the building blocks for future galaxies and stars. The research was presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR, previously studied the direction of magnetic fields close to the core of Messier 82, as the Cigar galaxy is officially known. This time the team applied tools that have been used extensively to study the physics around the Sun, known as heliophysics, to understand the magnetic field’s strength surrounding the galaxy at a distance 10 times larger than before.

“This is old physics for studying the Sun, but new for galaxies,” said Joan Schmelz, a director at the Universities Space Research Association based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and co-author of the upcoming paper about this research. “It’s helping us understand how the space between stars and galaxies became so rich with matter for future cosmic generations.”

Located 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major, the Cigar galaxy is undergoing an exceptionally high rate of star formation called a starburst. The star formation is so intense that it creates a “super wind” that blows material out of the galaxy. As SOFIA previously found using the instrumented called the High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera, or HAWC+, the wind drags the magnetic field near the galaxy’s core so that it’s perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy across 2,000 light-years.

Researchers wanted to learn if the magnetic field lines would extend indefinitely into intergalactic space like the magnetic environment in the solar wind, or turn over to form structures similar coronal loops that are found in active regions of the Sun. They calculate that the galaxy’s magnetic fields extend out like the solar wind, allowing the material blown by the super wind to escape into intergalactic space.

These extended magnetic fields may help explain how gas and dust spotted by space telescopes have traveled so far away from the galaxy. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope detected dusty material 20,000 lightyears beyond the galaxy, but it was unclear why it had spread so far away from the stars in both directions instead of in a cone-shaped jet.

“The magnetic fields may be acting like a highway, creating lanes for galactic material to spread far and wide into intergalactic space,” said Jordan Guerra Aguilera, a postdoctoral researcher at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and co-author on the upcoming paper.

With rare exceptions, the magnetic field in the solar corona cannot be measured directly. So, about 50 years ago, scientists developed methods to accurately extrapolate magnetic fields from the Sun’s surface into interplanetary space, known in heliophysics as the potential field extrapolation. Using SOFIA’s existing observations of central magnetic fields, the research team modified this method to estimate the magnetic field about 25,000 light-years around the Cigar galaxy.

“We can’t easily measure the magnetic fields at scales this large, but we can extrapolate it with these tools from heliophysics,” said Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez, a Universities Space Research Association scientist for SOFIA based at Ames and lead author on the study. “This new, interdisciplinary method gives us the larger perspective that we need to understand starburst galaxies.”

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science, and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Building 703, in Palmdale, California. The High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera instrument was developed and delivered to NASA by a multi-institution team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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David Guy-Johnson
January 17, 2021 11:55 pm

Absolutely fascinating

Reply to  David Guy-Johnson
January 18, 2021 4:29 am

Except that astrophysicists have failed to learn that magnetic fields in space are secondary effects due to the movement of charged particles (electrons & protons), elsewhere in science better known as the electric currents.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
January 18, 2021 1:35 pm
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 18, 2021 2:34 pm

Thanks but:
This site is currently unavailable to visitors from the European Economic Area while we work to ensure your data is protected in accordance with applicable EU laws.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
January 18, 2021 5:58 pm

Here’s an except:

“It was the “aha” moment, and where the MRI research here on Earth leads to the new theory of what’s happening in the Jovian system in our solar system and beyond.
The scientists realized they were seeing it on an every day basis.
Chekmenev says, “The current understanding as to why Jovian planets have magnetic fields is because they all must have the planetary dynamo or electric currents in moving electrically conducting planetary layers. Which in Jupiter’s and Saturn’s case could be metallic hydrogen. It’s predicted to exist at high pressures. For Neptune and Uranus, the search for electrically conductive layers is still ongoing. I thought maybe we don’t need an ocean of diamonds to explain what is happening. Maybe we can explain it at the level of the dihydrogen itself.”
Professor Chemenev’s theory boils it down to the spin conversion when the non-magnetic para-state changes to the ortho-state with substantially enhanced magnetization.
A nuclear flip and the magnetics soar.
Chemkmenev explains, “In the nutshell, the hidden magnetic force of parahydrogen awakens after the conversion to orthohydrogen. The previous flyby missions discovered that Jovian planets have parahydrogen-rich layers with clouds made of solid micro-particles. These particles can facilitate the rapid para- to ortho- interconversion and constantly recharge the enhanced magnetization of orthohydrogen. This continuous exchange is crucial to produce persistent magnetism on a planetary scale. Moreover, the new theory also explains the multi-polar nature of Jovian planets’ magnetospheres.”
He says, “Based upon the things we have been able to show in my lab, when the parahydrogen converts its state under a specific set of conditions, it can become highly magnetized orthohydrogen.”
Have it happen on the scale of a planet the size of Uranus, and you will have astonishing magnetic fields and complex patterns.”

end excerpt

Don’t you love censorship. EU now, US tomorrow.

January 18, 2021 1:33 am

Seems to be reversing cause and effect, to me.

Peta of Newark
January 18, 2021 3:04 am

Oh god, am I a tired and wizened old fart these days.
Probably The Climate wot did it I don’t wonder

Intro Rant Conclusion

What about 2 large clouds of dust coming together. Gravity.
Assuming a roughly spherical shape each, would they not pull each other into an elongated blob as they attracted to their gravitational centre?
When viewed from (perfectly) sidewise on, would look like a cigar

Stuff near that centre would be moving fastest and at its densest.
Stars would form

When they light up, a big blast of solar wind would come off each and every one, blowing away stuff that was late to the star formation party. Some might hang around and make planets.
Initially such stuff would expand away in a spherical cloud.
But stuff still falling in along the line that connected the centres of the 2 original clouds would prevent its escape. It would be stopped, turned around and pulled back in.
Thus, the distant observer would see not only a thickening of the cigar’s centre but also jets coming off perpendicular to the line that joined the clouds’ centre.
Moving perpendicular would be the only viable escape route for this blast of solar wind
Exactly what we see.
Precisely No Need for anything magnetic to drive it.

In the way that magnetic fields circulate inside electrical transformers, the jets would become conduits for magnetic fields – there is bound to be magnetic material in that dust

Our problem, apart from a bunch of hyper-excited children getting all worked up about water going down a plug-hole, our problem is that we see the new galaxy almost perfectly sideways.
If we could change our view, we’d see a pair of spiral arms starting to be formed, as the new galaxy starts rotating.
Rotation is bound to happen unless the 2 clouds hit met other perfectly head-on. It happens. They would make a spherical galaxy or Globular Cluster

“”detected dusty material 20,000 lightyears beyond the galaxy, but it was unclear why it had spread so far away from the stars in both directions instead of in a cone-shaped jet.””

Note ‘both directions’
That stuff, so far away didn’t come out, its material that was at the far distant sides of the 2 clouds that came together. Either still moving on its original trajectory, stopped in its tracks or very slowly coming to ‘join the party’

“”Researchers wanted to learn if the magnetic field lines would extend indefinitely into intergalactic space””
It would be interesting, to say The Very Least if that was the case.
They are speculating the existance of magnetic mono-poles
North Poles without a South and vice-versa.
The words ‘Spectacular Find’ would be an understatment of supermassive unprecedented kilonova mega mega squgga giiga proprotions.
And then some

I could say more, but What Is The Point?
Never underestimate the power of stupid people, especially when they occur in large numbers

Mmmmm, would that quote contract down to NASA – by any remote chance?

Or am I ‘late-to-the-party’
Unfashionably in this case.

I used to like ‘Starbursts’
Small (circa 3/4″) squares of chewy fruit-flavoured candy individually wrapped in wax-paper.
Used to be called “Opal Fruits’
Hideously addictive but they made my teeth hurt – too strong a combination of sugar and acid

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 18, 2021 3:46 am

I was gonna say all that stuff.
Astrophysicists are truly the climate change sciencers* of space.
*Sciencery,n, Research focussing on proving whatever the sponsor pays for. Sciencers: For a fee, they can make any commercial product walk on a cloud of scienciness.

James F. Evans
January 18, 2021 10:25 am

Magnetic fields depend on the motion of ions, either positive ions and/or electrons. the fourth state of matter. 99% of the detectable universe is plasma. An electric field is always present transverse of a magnetic field per Maxwell’s equations.

Plasma is the most dynamic state of matter.

Electric fields & magnetic fields go together.

Tell me that what we are observing is not a plasma system, the Cigar galaxy.

Reply to  James F. Evans
January 18, 2021 1:54 pm

They can be attenuated and magnified by space-time curvature as well.

James F. Evans
Reply to  Prjindigo
January 18, 2021 3:08 pm

“Space-time curvature” is impossible to define and quantify in physical matter. It’s an abstract concept contained within the mind of men.

January 18, 2021 12:23 pm

Next up – the universe as an expanding plasma

January 18, 2021 1:53 pm

It can even move stars around near the center!

January 19, 2021 12:42 am

Oh look, the electric universe in action. Who would have thunk it?

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