Saturday, September 23, 2023

They create the first map of the magnetic field of a cosmic super bubble


Astronomers at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) Unveils one-of-a-kind map that could help answer decades-old questions about the origin of stars and the effect of magnetic fields in the universe.

The map reveals the possible magnetic field structure of the Local Bubble, a massive hole 1,000 light-years wide in the space around our Sun.

Like a piece of Swiss cheese, our galaxy is filled with so-called super bubbles., The explosive supernova death of massive stars bursts these bubbles and in the process concentrates the fuel, gas and dust on the outer surfaces of the bubbles to form new stars. As a result, these thick surfaces serve as rich sites for the subsequent formation of stars and planets.

however, Scientists’ general understanding of super bubbles is incomplete., With the new 3D magnetic field map, researchers now have new information that may better explain the evolution of super bubbles, star formation and their effects on galaxies in general.

“Mapping out this 3D map of the local bubble will help us investigate superbubbles in new ways,” says Theo O’Neill, who spent a 10-week NSF-sponsored summer research experience at CFA while a college student. Led the mapping effort during , at the University of Virginia (UVA).

,Space is full of these super bubbles that trigger the formation of new stars and planets and affect the general shape of galaxies.“By knowing more about the precise mechanics that drive the local bubble in which the Sun resides today, we can learn more about the evolution and dynamics of super bubbles in general,” continues O’Neill.

“Space is full of these super bubbles that trigger the formation of new stars and planets and affect the general shape of galaxies”

Being a superbubble, the local bubble has become a hot topic in astrophysics in which the Sun and our solar system now sits.

The studies, along with new 3D magnetic field maps, are based on data from Gaia, a space observatory launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). By measuring the positions and motions of stars, Gaia was also used to estimate the location of cosmic dust, plotting its local concentrations and showing the approximate boundaries of local bubbles.

These data were combined by O’Neill and colleagues with data from Planck, another ESA-run space telescope. Planck, which surveyed the sky between 2009 and 2013, was primarily designed to look for remnant light from the Big Bang. In the process, the spacecraft compiled measurements of microwave-wavelength light from across the sky. The researchers used a portion of Planck’s observations that tracked the emission from dust within the relevant galaxy to help map the local bubble’s magnetic field.

In particular, observations of interest involve polarized light, ie light that vibrates in a preferred direction. This polarization is produced by magnetically aligned dust particles in space. The alignment of the dust in turn refers to the orientation of the magnetic field acting on the dust particles.

Mapping the magnetic field lines in this way allowed researchers working with the Planck data to compile a 2D map of the magnetic field. Projected into the sky as seen from Earth. To transform, or “unproject,” this map into three spatial dimensions, the researchers made two key assumptions: First, that most of the interstellar dust that produces the observed polarization is on the surface of the local bubble. and, second, that the theories that predict that the magnetic field will “sweep” toward the surface of the bubble as it expands are correct.

3D visualization of emerging magnetic spirals representing the structure of the magnetic field of our neighboring superbubble.If the field was indeed drawn towards the surface of the bubble and if that is where most of the polarization occurs.

The research team compared the resulting map with features along the surface of the local bubble. Examples include the Per-Tau Shell, a giant globular star-formation region, and the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, another major stellar nursery. Future studies will investigate the relationship between the magnetic field and these and other surface features.


  • Astrophysics Center. 2023. The magnetic field of the cosmic superbubble charted in 3D for the first time (Press release)
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news