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Home News Astronomers Are Uncovering the Magnetic Soul of the Universe

Astronomers Are Uncovering the Magnetic Soul of the Universe

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Summary (IA Generated)

Anytime astronomers figure out a new way of looking for magnetic fields in ever more remote regions of the cosmos, inexplicably, they find them.

Twenty years ago, astronomers started to detect magnetism permeating entire galaxy clusters, including the space between one galaxy and the next.

Last year, astronomers finally managed to examine a far sparser region of space—the expanse between galaxy clusters.

“It clearly cannot be related to the activity of single galaxies or single explosions or, I don’t know, winds from supernovae,” said Franco Vazza, an astrophysicist at the University of Bologna who makes state-of-the-art computer simulations of cosmic magnetic fields.

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One possibility is that cosmic magnetism is primordial, tracing all the way back to the birth of the universe.

In that case, weak magnetism should exist everywhere, even in the “voids” of the cosmic web—the very darkest, emptiest regions of the universe.

In a paper posted online in April and under review with Physical Review Letters, the cosmologists Karsten Jedamzik and Levon Pogosian argue that weak magnetic fields in the early universe would lead to the faster cosmic expansion rate seen today.

Primordial magnetism relieves the Hubble tension so simply that Jedamzik and Pogosian’s paper has drawn swift attention.

“This is an excellent paper and idea,” said Marc Kamionkowski, a theoretical cosmologist at Johns Hopkins University who has proposed other solutions to the Hubble tension.

And even if the idea works on paper, researchers will need to find conclusive evidence of primordial magnetism to be sure it’s the missing agent that shaped the universe.

Still, in all the years of talk about the Hubble tension, it’s perhaps strange that no one considered magnetism before.

But for decades, there was no way to tell whether magnetism is truly ubiquitous and thus a primordial component of the cosmos, so cosmologists largely stopped paying attention.