If the black hole is spinning, it can generate strong jets that blast across thousands of light-years and shape entire galaxies. These black hole engines are thought to be powered by magnetic fields. For the first time, astronomers have detected magnetic fields just outside the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
The team found that magnetic fields in some regions near the black hole are disorderly, with jumbled loops and whorls resembling intertwined spaghetti. In contrast, other regions showed a much more organized pattern, possibly in the region where jets would be generated.
They also found that the magnetic fields fluctuated on short time scales of only 15 minutes or so.
“Once again, the galactic center is proving to be a more dynamic place than we might have guessed,” says Johnson. “Those magnetic fields are dancing all over the place.”