The Exploding Galaxy M82: Evidence for the Existence of a Large-Scale Magnetic Field

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Science  24 Apr 1964:
Vol. 144, Issue 3617, pp. 405-409
DOI: 10.1126/science.144.3617.405


Photographs of galaxy M82 obtained in blue light show the existence of a previously unknown system of large-scale filaments extending 4000 parsec (1.2 X 1022 cm) above and below the fundamental plane of the galaxy along the minor axis. These filaments emit continuous radiation that is highly polarized, with the electric vector predominately perpendicular to the filamentary structure. A plausible interpretation is that the radiation is optical synchrotron emission caused by relativistic electrons spiraling in a large-scale magnetic field. To produce radiation in visual wavelengths, the electron energies must be in the range 103 to 104 Bev if the magnetic field is between 10-5 and 10-6 gauss.

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