Astronomers have spotted an intergalactic ‘bridge’ stretching between two galaxy clusters 10 million light-years apart.
A ‘trail’ of magnetic fields and relativistic electrons were spotted along filaments connecting two clusters, called Abell 0399 and Abell 0401.
The discovery is said to be the first of its kind, revealing a glimpse at how magnetic fields and high-energy particles extend along the ‘cosmic webs’ connecting distant objects in the universe.
Researchers led by a team from the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) of Cagliari identified the bridge using the LOFAR radio telescope.
The so-called cosmic web describes the filamentary structures through which mater is distributed across the universe.
At their intersections sit huge concentrations of galaxies, known as clusters.
And, it’s between these that scientists have now spotted magnetic fields for the first time.
Using the LoFar radio telescope, the team spotted what looked much like ‘aurora on cosmic scales.’
‘We typically observe this emission mechanism in action in individual galaxies and even in galaxy clusters, but never before has a radio emission been observed connecting two of these systems,’ said Matteo Murgia, from the National Institute of Astrophysics.