Our solar system ‘could be trapped inside huge magnetic tunnel’ warns astronomer

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Earth and the solar system around it could be trapped inside a giant magnetic tunnel.

Scientists are baffled by new research which suggests we could be living in an invisible 1,000 light year long tube of connected magnetic fields.

Jennifer West, an astronomer at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto has written a paper on the theory after investigating two of the brightest radio-emitting gas structures in our galaxy.

Her study of the North Polar Spur and Fan Region published in arXiv revealed that despite being on different sides of the sky, the two structures might be linked.

West said in a statement: "If we were to look up in the sky, we would see this tunnel-like structure in just about every direction we looked — that is, if we had eyes that could see radio light."

The North Polar Spur which is a massive ridge of hot X-ray and radio-emitting gas and the polarised radio wave producing Fan Region, could be linked by strange cosmic ropes which "a curving tunnel", the researchers said.

If true, the giant magnetic tunnel encompasses our solar system and beyond into a small chunk of the Milky Way, Live Science reports.

Since their discovery in the 1960s, the North Polar Spur and the Fan Region are still not fully understood by astronomers who have always considered them to be independent structures to one another.

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What may change all this however is data from radio wave observations which has been fed into a new computer model by West and her colleagues.

The result estimates the ropes to be around 1,000 light-years long and with the opposing structures approximately 350 light-years from the solar system.

A 1965 paper which speculated the strange radio signals inspired West to delve deeper.

She continued: "Based on the crude data available at this time, the authors (Mathewson & Milne) speculated that these polarised radio signals could arise from our view of the Local Arm of the galaxy, from inside it.

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"That paper inspired me to develop this idea and tie my model to the vastly better data that our telescopes give us today."

The invisible magnetic ropes could even be part of a far greater galactic structure.

West said: "Magnetic fields don't exist in isolation. They all must connect to each other. So a next step is to better understand how this local magnetic field connects both to the larger-scale galactic magnetic field and also to the smaller-scale magnetic fields of our sun and Earth.

"I think it's just awesome to imagine that these structures are everywhere, whenever we look up into the night sky."

The researchers published their findings Sept. 29 on the preprint server arXiv, which means it has yet to be peer reviewed.

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