Is the earth suspended by cosmic ropes inside a magnetic tunnel? Some scientists think so


It sounds like the premise of an early science fiction novel: what if Earth actually existed inside a giant magnetic tunnel?

According to a preprint study published in the scientific magazine Astrophysical Journal, this fanciful concept is perhaps less absurd than it seems. Indeed, the researchers’ idea is one that could literally redraw the map of our universe.

Scientists have known since the 1960s that there are two seemingly distinct radio structures – which are defined in astronomy as any object emitting strong radio waves – which can be definitely detected by terrestrial technology. Known as the North Polar Spur and Fan Region, the new study postulates that these radio structures look like long strings and are about 1,000 light years long, as well as about 350 light years from our planet.

Research by scientists at Penn State University also suggests that in addition to being close to Earth (relatively speaking), the two structures are connected to each other and, therefore, essentially surround us.

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Imagine a giant tube made up of massive, magnetized tendrils that can look a bit like long, thin ropes. These tendrils include a magnetic field and charged particles that manage to connect the two radio structures, creating a tunnel-like structure that includes the Earth as well as a small section of the Milky Way – at least that’s the idea. .

The scientists’ findings could help future researchers as they attempt to create a holistic model of magnetic fields in other galaxies and understand similar structures discovered through astronomical observations. They also predict that when researchers are able to observe these radio structures with higher resolution, they will discover additional features, including “a much more complex filamentous structure”, among others. As one of the scientists at Salon said, these structures would be pretty impressive if we could detect them with our own eyes. (The north polar spur, for example, appears on an X-ray map as a kind of massive yellowish bubble.)

“If we could see radio light, then we (in the Northern Hemisphere) would see several bright spots extending a very great distance across the sky,” Dr. Jennifer L. West, co-author of the article and astronomer at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Salon said via email. “These spots are fixed on the sky and they would change position and orientation during a night and with the seasons, just like the stars and the constellations.” West added that people who ventured outside soon after sunset in the fall, as well as cities in northern mid-latitudes, would see the Fan region appear in part of the sky.

“The fan region would extend from the northern horizon to the point above,” West explained. “It would pass through the constellations of Cameloparladis, Cassiopeia and Cepheus. The north polar spur would extend from the western horizon and also reach almost above us. It would pass through the constellations of Bootes, Corona Borealis and Hercules. Another, somewhat a weaker spot would extend from the southeast.

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This new scientific research into magnificent structures, West explained, “has tried to account for all the different types of sightings” astronomers have over the years. It also offers more than an aesthetic gratification. As West told Salon, she is fascinated by magnetism both in the universe and in our galaxy. Scientists are only beginning to learn more about these magnetic fields, and West is determined to understand as much as possible why they exist and how they influence the formation of stars and planets.

“A theory of magnetism in galaxies is called the dynamo theory – it is the theory that explains the magnetic field of the Earth and our Sun, and that they are generated from rotating charged particles,” West said. “We believe it is also responsible for the generation of magnetic fields in galaxies, but we need more evidence to support this hypothesis.”

She added: “In this study, we are trying to map the local environment so that when we build models of the entire galactic magnetic field, we can take into account the local contribution. The saying that we can’t really seeing the forest for the trees applies here. We need to understand what we are looking at closely in order to get a sense of the big picture. I hope this is a step towards understanding the magnetic field of our entire Galaxy and the Universe. “

It might even, West noted, hopefully someday include our own solar system.

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