Magnetic Fields Surrounding Milky Way’s Black Hole – Exploring the Science & Technology

Astronomers have recently identified powerful magnetic fields swirling around the black hole located at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The European Southern Observatory announced this discovery, stating that a new image from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has revealed a ring of magnetic fields surrounding the Sagittarius A* black hole in polarized light for the first time.

These magnetic fields are similar to those observed around the M87* black hole in the heart of the M87 Galaxy, leading the ESO to believe that strong magnetic fields might be a common feature of all black holes. Sara Issaoun from Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics, who co-leads the project, described the magnetic fields near the Milky Way’s black hole as strong, twisted, and organized.

Images captured in polarized light allow astronomers to isolate the magnetic field lines, providing insights into the structure and strength of these magnetic fields. Supermassive black holes found at the centers of galaxies possess masses that are millions and even billions of times greater than that of the Sun, with their origins being a mystery to scientists.

Despite the fact that nothing, not even light, can escape the gravitational pull of black holes, advancements in technology have made it possible to indirectly observe them. The EHT captured the halo of light produced by the flow of matter and gases that black holes attract and expel, providing key insights into their behavior.

Angelo Ricarte, a member of the Harvard Black Hole Initiative and co-lead of the project, stated that by imaging polarized light from hot glowing gas near black holes, scientists can directly infer the structures and strengths of the magnetic fields surrounding these cosmic entities. Mariafelicia De Laurentis, the deputy scientist at the EHT and a professor at the University of Naples Federico II, noted that the strong magnetic fields observed around both the M87* and Sagittarius A* black holes may be a universal and fundamental feature of these systems.

By Samantha Robertson

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