A study published in the journal Science by scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics – a partnership between Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, has revealed the presence of magnetic fields within the black hole located in our Milky Way.
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This revelation was made possible by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) which is a worldwide network of radio telescopes that are networked together to operate as one great telescope the size of Earth.
Lead author Michael Johnson of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics clarified that "Understanding these magnetic fields is critical. Nobody has been able to resolve magnetic fields near the event horizon until now."
And Shep Doeleman, assistant director at MIT’s Haystack Observatory added that “These magnetic fields have been predicted to exist, but no one has seen them before. Our data puts decades of theoretical work on solid observational groud.”
Since the Event Horizon Telescope is capable of resolving images at 1/3600 of a degree (arcsecond) and even yet at 15 micro-arcseconds, researchers were able to measure the linear polarization of light at a wavelength of about 1.3 mm.
"Once again, the galactic center is proving to be a more dynamic place than we might have guessed," said Johnson. "Those magnetic fields are dancing all over the place."
The scientific team was able to collect data of magnetic fields within black holes located within our Milky Way by comparing data obtained from the Submillimeter Array and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, the Submillimeter Telescope in Arizona, and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) in California.
The more the EHT gets additional radio dishes globally and collects more data from these, the more it will achieve detailed image resolution of what might be happening within a black hole – the first of its kind to be so imaged.
"The only way to build a telescope that spans the Earth is to assemble a global team of scientists working together. With this result, the EHT team is one step closer to solving a central paradox in astronomy: why are black holes so bright?" states Doeleman.
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