Milky Way’s Outer Halo Filled with Donut-Shaped Magnetic Fields

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The Fascinating Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way

The Milky Way, our home galaxy, boasts a breathtaking outer halo teeming with magnetic fields that form gigantic donut shapes, ranging from 12,000 to 100,000 light-years in diameter, with our galaxy’s core nestled within. These unique magnetic fields, often referred to as “toroids,” play a vital role in regulating the physical phenomena surrounding the interstellar medium – the space between stars filled with gas and dust – as well as controlling the movement of cosmic rays, charged particles hurtling through space at astonishing speeds nearing that of light.

The Study of Galactic Magnetism

A recent groundbreaking study, spearheaded by researchers Xu Jun and Han Jinlin from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), sheds new light on the enigmatic origin and development of magnetic fields pervading the cosmos. Jinlin, renowned for his prior work in unraveling the magnetic field patterns along the Milky Way’s spiral arms, uncovered a remarkable anti-symmetry linked to celestial entities beyond our galaxy that emit radio signals.

This anti-symmetry anomaly, where magnetic field orientations invert both above and below the Milky Way’s main galactic plane, hints at the toroidal nature of the magnetic fields enveloping the galaxy’s halo – an extensive region enveloping gas, dust, and stars surrounding our galactic home.

Unraveling the Galactic Halo

Though these anti-symmetry effects are partly generated by interstellar interferences near our solar system, the team embarked on a quest to verify the donut-shaped structure of the Milky Way’s magnetic fields existing within its outer halo. By isolating the specific Faraday rotation phenomenon within the interstellar medium, which influences radio wave polarization based on magnetic flux, utilizing data collected from pulsars with the Five-hundred Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), they commenced their investigation.

Through meticulous analysis and subtraction of the interstellar-induced signal distortions, Jinlin and his team unveiled the persistent antisymmetric radio wave signatures across Earth’s sky, spanning from the core to the peripheries of the Milky Way. This revelation not only confirmed the toroidal design of these magnetic fields but also hinted at their staggering dimensions, stretching out from the galactic center to distances ranging between 6,000 and 50,000 light-years.

The Astrophysical Journal Publication

The outcomes of this groundbreaking research were unveiled in a recent publication in The Astrophysical Journal, illuminating a new chapter in our understanding of the cosmic magnetic tapestry adorning the Milky Way.

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Chris Jones

Hey there! 👋 I'm Chris, 34 yo from Toronto (CA), I'm a journalist with a PhD in journalism and mass communication. For 5 years, I worked for some local publications as an envoy and reporter. Today, I work as 'content publisher' for InformOverload. 📰🌐 Passionate about global news, I cover a wide range of topics including technology, business, healthcare, sports, finance, and more. If you want to know more or interact with me, visit my social channels, or send me a message.
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