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Magnetic Field Traces Gas and Dust Swirling Around Supermassive Black Hole

22 Feb 2018, 22:56 UTC
Magnetic Field Traces Gas and Dust Swirling Around Supermassive Black Hole
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Astronomers reveal a new high resolution map of the magnetic field lines in gas and dust swirling around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, published in a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team, led by Professor Pat Roche of the University of Oxford, created the map, which is the first of its kind, using the CanariCam infrared camera attached to the Gran Telescopio Canarias sited on the island of La Palma.Black holes are objects with gravitational fields so strong that not even light can escape their grasp. The center of almost every galaxy appears to host a black hole, and the one we live in, the Milky Way, is no exception. Stars move around the black hole at speeds of up to 30 million kilometers an hour, indicating that it has a mass of more than a million times our Sun.Visible light from sources in the center of the Milky Way is blocked by clouds of gas and dust. Infrared light, as well as X-rays and radio waves, passes through this obscuring material, so astronomers use this to see the region more clearly. CanariCam combines infrared imaging with a polarizing ...

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