Supermassive black hole’s intense magnetic field revealed

London: Swedish astronomers have revealed an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy.

A team of five astronomers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden, found an extremely powerful magnetic field, beyond anything previously detected in the core of a galaxy, very close to the event horizon of a supermassive black hole.

Up to now, only weak magnetic fields far from black holes several light-years away had been probed.

“The new observation helps astronomers understand the structure and formation of these massive inhabitants of the centres of galaxies and the twin high-speed jets of plasma they frequently eject from their poles,” explained Ivan Marti-Vidal, lead author of this work.

In this study, astronomers detected signals directly related to a strong magnetic field very close to the event horizon of the supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy named PKS 1830-211.

The team measured the strength of the magnetic field by studying the way in which light was polarised, as it moved away from the black hole.

“Polarisation is an important property of light and is much used in daily life, for example in sunglasses or 3D glasses at the cinema,” Marti-Vidal added.

They found clear signals of polarisation rotation that are hundreds of times higher than the highest ever found in the Universe.

“These results and future studies will help us understand what is really going on in the immediate vicinity of supermassive black holes,” said Sebastien Muller, co-author of the paper that appeared in the journal Science.