M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

Magnetic field simplifies spotted by SOFIA are revealed over an image of the Whirlpool galaxy, M51, from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. For the first time, SOFIA’s infrared view shows that the magnetic fields in the outer arms do not follow the galaxy’s spiral shape and are rather distorted.

Not all appears as it would seem in the Whirlpool galaxy. One of the best-studied spiral nebula and a delight to amateur astronomers, Messier 51, as it’s formally named, is influenced by powerful, undetectable forces.

Located 31 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici, the galaxy’s arms are strikingly noticeable as they reach out along the main spine structure, displaying swirling clouds of gas and dust that are enormous star-making factories. New observations by NASA‘s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, provided at this week’s 237 th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, reveals a more complicated image.

Radio telescopes previously detected neatly-drawn magnetic fields throughout the length of the galaxy’s massive arms. under SOFIA’s infrared look for the first time those lines offer way to a disorderly scene in the external spiral arms. Utilizing a far-infrared video camera and imaging polarimeter instrument called the High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera, or HAWC , scientists discovered that the magnetic fields in the outskirts of the galaxy no longer follow the spiral structure and are rather distorted.

What’s causing all this magnetic pandemonium? The extreme star formation in these areas develops turmoil that can only be seen with infrared flight. A close-by, yellow-colored galaxy called NGC 5195 tugging at the outermost idea of among the arms contributes to the turmoil, potentially strengthening the magnetic fields. The research study constructs on SOFIA’s previous findings that reveal electromagnetic fields are important in forming spiral galaxies and helps unwind the intricate function electromagnetic fields play in the evolution of galaxies.

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