A team of researchers achieved a new milestone as they managed to record the first set of polarized radio waves from a distant explosion classified as a gamma-ray burst GRB 190114C. It is believed that cosmic field might flow through the jets, which contribute to the formation of gamma-ray bursts and provide structural support.
The researchers used an unusual method to observe the spectacular phenomenon. Magnetic jets were viewed in linearly polarized light, which is quite sensitive to the size and intensity of the magnetic field patches, as larger fields produce a higher amount of polarized light.
An intense flash of gamma rays activated the Swift satellite, which is operated by NASA, in January 2019. Data obtained from the satellite-inferred that the flux came from the Fornax constellation.
Gamma-ray burst’s polarized radio signals recorded for the first time by astronomers
By harnessing the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (also known as ALMA), which is found in Chile, the researchers began to survey the sky in an attempt to track down radio waves generated by the explosion. The high-intensity event took place almost 4.5 billion years ago in a galaxy which is situated at a distance of 7 billion light-years away.
The results were quite fascinating as the team managed to track down a polarization signal of 0.8 %, which infers that the magnetic field patches may be as big as our solar system. During the next stage of the study, the scientist will compare the current information with data obtained from X-ray and visible light telescopes.
Low-frequency data provided by ALMA proved that what the researchers observed were in fact a gamma-ray burst and not an interaction between the jets and the environment. Magnetic fields are elusive and notorious for the difficulty to track them down. The fact that the team has managed to localize them is a major feat, and the new information has already piqued the interest of the scientific community. The results were published in a scientific journal.