A team of astronomers suggests that the solar system is surrounded by a magnetic tunnel that can be seen by radio waves, as exposed in a study recently published in the Astrophysical Journal.
According to Jennifer West, a researcher at the University of Toronto (Canada) and lead author of the study, her theory is based on the presence of two bright structures found on opposite sides of the sky, called the north polar spur and the fan region. Astronomers have known both structures for decades, but most research focused on them separately. West and his colleagues, by contrast, believe that are connected and made of charged particles and a magnetic field in the form of long strings. This connection, in turn, forms what appears to be a gigantic tunnel around our solar system.
“If we look up at the sky, we would see this tunnel-like structure in almost every direction,” points out West. “Sure, if we had eyes that could see the light from radio waves,” he clarifies.
West uses the map of the Earth as a smaller-scale example of his theory. On our planet, the north pole is at the top and the equator is in the middle, unless you look at it from a different perspective. West believes that the same is true of the map of our galaxy.
“Most astronomers look at a map with the galaxy’s north pole facing up and the galactic center in the middle. An important part that inspired this idea was remake that map with a different point of view in between, “he explains.
In this way, using models and simulations, the researchers determined that both structures are about 350 light years of the Earth and have a length of about 1,000 light years, the “equivalent of traveling between Toronto and Vancouver two billion times“.
In West’s view, “magnetic fields do not exist in isolation,” all must connect each.
“So the next step is to better understand how this local magnetic field connects to both the larger-scale galactic magnetic field and the smaller-scale magnetic fields of our sun and Earth,” adds the astronomer.
For his part, one of the study’s co-authors, Bryan Gaensler, acknowledges that “this is a work extremely smart“and that, at first, he had thought” it was too ‘out of place’ to be a possible explanation “, but that finally the idea convinced him and that now he is excited to see how the rest of the astronomical community reacts.