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Researchers Observed Polarized Shockwaves In The Universe’s Cosmic Web

Key Highlights

  • A team of researchers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have made a groundbreaking discovery in their study of the universe’s largest structures, the cosmic web. 
  • In their recent research published in Science Advances, the team found the first observational evidence of strong shockwaves in the cosmic web through radio emissions.

The cosmic web is a network of filaments and clusters that contains galaxies, gases, and cosmic voids that span millions of light-years. The network was predicted by astrophysicists in the 1960s and was visually represented through computer modeling in the 1980s. Mapping the cosmic web has opened up new avenues of research and investigation, including the study of magnetic fields at a cosmic scale and their role in shaping both galactic and cosmic structures.

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Magnetic fields are a fundamental force of nature that pervades the universe, from planets and stars to the largest spaces between galaxies. Several aspects of cosmic magnetism are not yet understood completely, especially at the scales seen in the cosmic web. When matter merges in the universe, it generates a shockwave that accelerates particles, amplifying intergalactic magnetic fields.

Radio Emissions From Cosmic Web

Dr. Tessa Vernstrom from the University of Western Australia’s node of ICRAR led the research and described magnetism as a fundamental force in nature. Her team recorded radio emissions coming from the CW, the first observational evidence of strong shockwaves.

The study of magnetic fields in the CW can expand and refine our theories on how the universe grows and may help us solve the mystery of the origins of cosmic magnetism. With this new evidence of strong shockwaves in the CW, researchers are one step closer to uncovering the secrets of the universe’s largest structures.

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