By mapping this radio signal astronomers can map galactic magnetic fields. But cosmic web filaments are so diffuse that the radio light they emit is very faint. Too faint to be easily detected. And since nearby galaxies create even stronger radio signals, the web signal can be drowned out by galactic radio noise.

To overcome this challenge, the team focused on polarized radio light. These are radio emissions that have a specific orientation. Since the orientation is related to the overall orientation of a filament, the team could more easily pull this signal out of the cosmic radio background.

They used data from all-sky radio maps such as the Global Magneto-Ionic Medium Survey, the Planck Legacy Archive, the Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array, and the Murchison Widefield Array. By stacking this data and comparing it to maps of the comic web, the team confirmed the polarized radio signal emitted by the web.

This result is not just the first detection of cosmic web magnetic fields, it is also strong evidence to support the existence of collision shockwaves within intergalactic filaments.

These shockwaves have been seen in computer simulations of cosmic structures, but this is the first evidence to support the idea that these simulation features are accurate.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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