Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
Strong magnetic fields surround Milky Way’s black hole – Science & Tech.

Astronomers have recently made a significant discovery regarding the presence of powerful magnetic fields surrounding the black hole located at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This was revealed through new images from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which captured polarized light emitted by hot gas surrounding the Sagittarius A* black hole for the first time.

According to Sara Issaoun, a member of Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics and co-lead of the project, these magnetic fields are highly organized and twisted, suggesting that they play a crucial role in driving the flow of matter towards black holes. The presence of strong magnetic fields around both M87* and Sagittarius A* suggests that this may be a universal characteristic of these systems, implying that strong magnetic fields may be common among all black holes.

Supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of galaxies, are significantly larger in mass compared to the Sun, with masses ranging from millions to billions of times greater. Although their origins remain a mystery, researchers have been able to study them indirectly by observing their halo of light that forms due to the inflow and outflow of matter and gas around black holes. The EHT captured images of M87* in 2019 and Sagittarius A* in 2022, providing valuable insights into these mysterious entities.

Angelo Ricarte, a member of the Harvard Black Hole Initiative and co-lead of the project, emphasized the importance of imaging polarized light emitted by hot gas surrounding black holes. This allowed researchers to directly understand the structure and strength of magnetic fields that drive matter towards black holes. Mariafelicia De Laurentis, deputy scientist at the EHT and professor at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, added that this discovery provides further evidence for our understanding of how these systems function.

By Aiden Nguyen

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