NASA captures 'magnetic fingerprint' of a galaxy across 24,000 light years

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 29, 2020, 08:51 PM(IST)

NGC 1068 or M77 Photograph:( Twitter )

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The mesmerising image depicts magnetic fields in galaxy NGC 1068 or M77, streamlining over visible light and X-ray composite image of the galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday captured the 'magnetic fingerprint' of a galaxy across 24,000 light-years.

The mesmerising image depicts magnetic fields in galaxy NGC 1068 or M77, streamlining over visible light and X-ray composite image of the galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope, NuSTAR or the Nuclear Spectroscopic Array, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Also read: 'Molten ring': NASA captures the largest Einstein rings of the universe

NGC 1068 appears to have a complex inner structure. This galaxy is basically analogous to NGC 4736 (M94) showing a strikingly similar overall morphology. The extended outer disk shows signs of interaction and misalignment, probably a result of a recent bombardment.

The magnetic fields aligned along the entire length of the massive spiral arms, 24,000 light-years across (0.8 kiloparsecs) implying that the gravitational forces that created the galaxy’s shape are also compressing its magnetic field.

This supports the leading theory of how the spiral arms are forced into their iconic shape known as “density wave theory.” 

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), studied the galaxy using far-infrared light (89 microns) to reveal facets of its magnetic fields than previous observations using visible and radio telescopes could not detect.

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