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Cosmic magnetic field strength measured

Hints of weak magnetism between galaxies may provide information about early universe

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2:17pm, April 1, 2010

Astronomers say they have detected evidence of how strong the magnetic fields between galaxies must be. The finding helps illuminate how magnetism arose in the cosmos and could one day serve as a probe for understanding processes that happened soon after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

The new study, published online April 1 in Science, “may be a clue that there was some fundamental process in the intergalactic medium that made magnetic fields,” says Ellen Zweibel, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not associated with the work.

All galaxies contain magnetic fields. The Milky Way’s field is most intense near its center, where

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