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Space Technology

New All-Sky Map Shows the Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the discerning-eye dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With a unique new all-sky map, scientists at MPA have made significant progress toward measuring the magnetic field structure of the Milky Way in unprecedented detail. Specifically, the map is of a quantity known as Faraday depth, which among other things, depends strongly on the magnetic fields along a particular line of sight. To produce the map, data were combined from more than 41,000 individual measurements using a novel image reconstruction technique. The work was a collaboration between scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), who are specialists in the new discipline of information field theory, and a large international team of radio astronomers. The new map not only reveals the structure of the galactic magnetic field on large scales, but also small-scale features that provide information about turbulence in the galactic gas."
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New All-Sky Map Shows the Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way

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  • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @04:02PM (#38294578) Homepage Journal

    ...would be a magnetic map superimposed on an inverse map of known stellar objects where "brightness" is the estimated mass calibrated such that stars that behave as we'd expect them to will show up as black (or near to it). (ie: calculate what you'd hypothesize the magnetic fields "should" be if all models are correct, then look at the difference between what you see and what you expect to see.)

    In other words, what doesn't match up? Maps are wonderful things, but in science you really don't care too much about the knowns. The unknowns are much more fun. Knowing where there are magnetic fields where there's no identifiable source, where the magnetic field for stars are unexpectedly strong or unexpectedly weak - that's where it gets really interesting. You can do a lot where data doesn't match the hypothesis. There's a lot less you can do when they do match and there's absolutely nothing you can do if you don't make any predictions at all.

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