Home » News & Blogs » A galactic Christmas tree lit up by magnetic fields and interloping stars
Bookmark and Share
Bad Astronomy

A galactic Christmas tree lit up by magnetic fields and interloping stars

25 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
A galactic Christmas tree lit up by magnetic fields and interloping stars
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Look, I've been doing this astronomy thing for a long time. Like a long time. More often than not I can recognize a bright nebula or galaxy on sight, as well as a decent percentage of the battered and crater-scarred moons in the solar system. I've seen comets in outburst, storms erupt on the Sun, stars explode, and impacts on other planets.

It takes a lot to surprise me now. And it takes something really weird for me to sit up in my chair and say, "What the WHAT?!"

So when I saw these images, well.

Radio “harps” are due to stars injecting electrons in the magnetic field lines in the center of the Milky Way. The electrons glow and spread out, lighting up the lines along their lengths. Credit: T. Thomas (AIP) / MeerKat

What. The. WHAT.

Astronomers call these structures "harps", because they look like the strings on a harp: parallel and different lengths. The one on the right they call a "Christmas Tree", and I have to admit, yeah. Good call. Timely, too.

So what are they? Technically, they're time-dependent synchrotron radio emissions caused by cosmic rays streaming along magnetic field lines as a massive star or ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod