Intergalactic magnetic fields blur our views

Images of black hole candidates viewed in x-rays have been blurred by primordial magnetic fields lying around the universe according to a new study. 170 images of black hole candidates were investigated and a blurring effect relative to the expected nice clean x-ray images reported. The mechanism for doing this lies in how x-rays interact with background radiation in the universe. Occasionally, an x-ray will interact by becoming an electron-positron pair. This pair of oppositely charged particles will travel for a little while before being attracted back together and forming a new x-ray. If nothing happens to deflect the e-p pair, the new x-ray will continue on the same path as the old one with the same energy. Magnetic fields will however alter the path of the charged particles and hence the properties of the recombined x-ray – if they recombine. More details here.


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