July 17, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Early Magnetic Galaxies Surprise Astronomers

Astronomers reported in Nature that early galaxies have normal magnetic fields.1  That is surprising because magnetic fields were supposed to start small and strengthen over billions of years.
    The team tried to be careful to distinguish intervening magnetic signatures from those in quasars.  Their measurements indicated that “organized fields of surprisingly high strengths are associated with normal galaxies when the Universe was only about one-third of its present age.”  It also reveals that physicists don’t understand galactic magnetism very well.  The finding puts severe constraints on models of how magnetic fields form in galaxies.
    The international team of astronomers ended their paper with a commentary about modern cosmology that was revealing.  “It also serves as a general reminder of the potential importance of magnetic fields, which is usually completely ignored, in the formation and evolution of cosmic structures in the high-redshift Universe.”
    Space.com gave a layman’s report on the announcement.  The article ended, “The new finding means scientists must come up with an improved explanation for how magnetic fields build up inside galaxies in the young universe such as those Miniati and his team observed.”


1.  Bernet, Miniati et al, “Strong magnetic fields in normal galaxies at high redshift,” Nature 454, 302-304 (17 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07105.

This is disturbing.  What else are they ignoring that could have important effects on their cosmological models? 

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Categories: Cosmology, Physics

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